La mandragola

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University of Alabama Libraries

The current best-selling bilingual edition of Machiavelli’s plays, The Comedies of Machiavelli, edited by David Sices and James B. Atkinson, contains several errors, mistranslations, and historical inaccuracies. Though Sices claims fidelity to Machiavelli’s texts in his introduction, my experience with his work—as both a theatre director and a student of Italian Renaissance literature—has proven otherwise. In particular, Sices’s translation of La Mandragola (titled The Mandrake in his edition) plays upon a misguided image of Machiavelli the villain, a stereotype that has plagued Italian Renaissance studies for centuries. My translation of La Mandragola offers an alternative to Sices’s work. In this edition, I remain loyal to the 1513 performance text, preserving Machiavelli’s exact words whenever possible and footnoting discrepancies. I have also preserved Machiavelli’s use of formal and familiar language, a feat no other modern translation has attempted. In my opinion. Machiavelli’s use of tu and voi forms are critical to understanding his overall comment on contemporary religious, civil, and sexual power structures. Though there is still work to be done, I am confident my translation is both more entertaining and more accurate than the current bilingual edition. In sum, I hope this translation, intended for academic audiences, facilitates a more accurate conversation on Machiavelli’s contribution to Early Modern drama.

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