Posted by: vikingsinspace | February 27, 2012

VI.01.11. Read The Life of Cesare Borgia

Date Accomplished: 14 Dec. 2011

The Life of Cesare Borgia: The Writing of Rafael Sabatini Edition, vol. xi

My Sabatini Journal

“Mind being the seat of the soul, and literature being the expression of the mind, literature, it follows, is the soul of an age, the surviving and immortal part of it” (vi)

“The mighty of this world shall never want for detractors.  The mean and insignificant, writhing under the consciousness of his own shortcomings, ministers to his self-love by vilifying the great that he may lessen the gap between himself and them.  To achieve greatness is to achieve enemies.  For greatness excites envy; and envy is the most fruitful of all the seeds of hatred.” (40)

“There was much traders’ blood in Venice, and, trader-like, she was avid of possessions.” (174)

“…an ugly truth is notoriously hurtful and infinitely more provocative of resentment, than a lie.” (300)

The Life of Cesare Borgia

It has taken me several months to read Sabatini’s The Life of Cesare Borgia, primarily due to a new job which has left me with little free time.  Because of this, my memories of the book may not be precise.

I do recall this work, one of Sabatini’s non-fiction pieces, to be an in-depth reassessment of one of Sabatini’s heroes.  Cesare Borgia is the classic egotist that Sabatini loves, and history has not been kind to the Borgia legacy.  Sabatini attempts to rectify the Borgia name through through some fairly good scholarship.  I wish I knew more about the period to offer an honest critique of Sabatini’s work.  I can say that I think Sabatini’s perception of Machiavelli’s work, The Prince, is wrong.  Sabatini sees The Prince as a work honoring Cesare Borgia, whereas I have always taken it to be a work of sarcasm: written in the ‘mirror of princes’ style, but presenting a ruthless reality rather than the chivalric expectation.

I can say this: Sabatini’s account of Cesare Borgia’s death is very moving.  However, it is not so much moving to the reader as it was obviously moving to the author.  A small but interesting glimpse into Sabatini’s private mind.


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