Francesco Guicciardini Criticism - Essay

Cecil Grayson (essay date 1965)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Introductory Notes to Francesco Guicciardini: Selected Writings, edited and introduced by Cecil Grayson, translated by Margaret Grayson, Oxford University Press, 1965, pps. xxv, 59-60, 127-28.

[In the following brief notes, Grayson describes the contents, physical appearance, and publication history of Guicciardini's Ricordi, Considerations on the "Discourses" of Machiavelli, and Ricordanze.]

Introductory Note: Ricordi

Guicciardini made three redactions of this work. Although he began to collect together certain maxims as early as 1512, the main body of the collection, in a manuscript now lost, was put together sometime...

(The entire section is 1001 words.)

Nicolai Rubinstein (essay date 1965)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Introduction to Maxims and Reflections of a Renaissance Statesman (Ricordi), by Francesco Guicciardini, translated by Mario Domandi, Harper Torchbooks, 1965, pp. 7-32.

[In the following essay, Rubinstein provides an overview of Guicciardini's eighteen-year endeavor known as the Ricordi, and points out the differences in Guicciardini's work from that of his contemporary and colleague, Machiavelli.]


In the history of Renaissance thought, Guicciardini's Ricordi occupy a place of singular importance. Few works of the sixteenth century allow us so penetrating an insight into the views and sentiments of its author as these...

(The entire section is 9408 words.)

Mario Domandi (essay date 1965)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Translator's Preface to Maxims and Reflections of a Renaissance Statesman (Ricordi), by Francesco Guicciardini, translated by Mario Domandi, Harper Torchbooks, 1965, pp. 33-38.

[In the following essay, Domandi asserts that Guicciardini's Maxims, like the writings of his colleague Machiavelli, should be commended for separating politics from ethics.]

If Guicciardini's Ricordi has been as well known as Machiavelli's Prince, they would surely have competed for the reputation of being the most immoral piece of political prose of the early Cinquecento. The great critic Francesco DeSanctis, whose liberal-nationalism generally predisposed him to...

(The entire section is 2118 words.)

Sidney Alexander (essay date 1969)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Introduction to The History of Italy, by Francesco Guicciardini, translated and edited by Sidney Alexander, Princeton University Press, 1969, pps. xxv, 59-60, 127-28.

[In the following excerpt, Alexander compares Guicciardini's writing style to that of several twentieth-century writers, asserting that Guicciardini's style is modern because it focuses on the individual in history.]

"If we consider intellectual power [the Storia d'Italia] is the most important work that has issued from an Italian mind." The judgment is that of Francesco de Sanctis, surely himself one of the foremost Italian minds. But like a great many classics, Guicciardini's History...

(The entire section is 4123 words.)

Mario Domandi (essay date 1970)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Introduction to The History of Florence, by Francesco Guicciardini, translated and edited by Mario Domandi, Harper & Row, 1970, pp. xiii-xxxvii.

[In the following excerpt, Domandi examines the structure, style, and purpose of Guicciardini's History of Florence and notes that the work stresses the importance of rational thought. (Note: Only those footnotes are included which pertain to this particular excerpt.]

After lying in the Guicciardini family archive for 350 years, the History of Florence was edited and published for the first time by Giuseppe Canestrini, as the third volume of his Opere inedite di Francesco...

(The entire section is 3799 words.)

Mark Phillips (essay date 1977)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Historian's Language," in Francesco Guicciardini: The Historian's Craft, University of Toronto Press, 1977, pp. 174-83.

[In the following essay, Phillips examines the writing style displayed in Guicciardini's Storia d'Italia (The History of Italy), concluding that the style is complicated, cool, and "mannered," but that it can also be passionate when called for by the subject matter; additionally, Phillips observes that Guicciardini's writing is a good example of the ambiguity found in humanism.]

In the present century, when extended prose narrative is by far the dominant literary form, historians have largely abandoned their commitment to...

(The entire section is 4690 words.)

Sheila ffolliott (essay date 1982)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Francesco Guicciardini's Report from Spain: Introduction," Allegorica, Vol. VII, No. 1, Summer, 1982, pp. 60-2.

[In the following essay, ffolliott describes the Report from Spain as a genre of writing new to the Renaissance, and observes that this report reveals much about the Florentine Republic's relationship with Spain at a particular point in history.]

The Report from Spain was written by the Florentine lawyer and historian Francesco Guicciardini (1482-1540) while he was Ambassador at the Court of King Ferdinand in 1512-1513 on behalf of the Florentine Republic.1 It is a unique document never before wholly translated into...

(The entire section is 1122 words.)

Peter Bondanella (essay date 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Francesco Guicciardini in Modern Critical Literature," Annali d'Italianistica, Vol. 2, 1984, pp. 7-18.

[In the following essay, Bondanella traces the publication history of Guicciardini's writings, noting that while some of his editors have been interested in the moral content of his work, others have concentrated on his style and method.]

Guicciardini's place in Italian and European literary history owes as much to extraliterary factors as it does to a reasoned assessment of the merits of his works. Given the peculiar publication history of his works, a comprehensive view of Guicciardini's contributions to Italian Renaissance culture was perhaps not even...

(The entire section is 5353 words.)

Donald J. Wilcox (essay date 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Guicciardini and the Humanist Historians," Annali d'Italianistica, Vol. 2, 1984, pp. 19-33.

[In the following essay, Wilcox places Guicciardini within the tradition of Renaissance humanist historians but stipulates that Guicciardini's writings differ from the rest thanks to his understanding both of individual psychology and of the complex, changing connections between historical events.]

Guicciardini's relation to the tradition of humanist historiography remains problematic despite considerable study over the past thirty years. Early attempts to dissociate Guicciardini were flawed by misunderstanding of the fundamental traits of humanist historiography. In...

(The entire section is 7331 words.)

Nancy S. Struever (essay date 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Proverbial Signs: Formal Strategies in Guicciardini's Ricordi," Annali d'Italianistica, Vol. 2, 1984, pp. 94-109.

[In the following essay, Struever suggests that Guicciardini presented his Ricordi as a set of proverbs in order to express important ethical ideas in a traditional and therefore intimate, accessible form.]

As long ago as 1939, Felix Gilbert demonstrated the usefulness of a textual analysis of the moral-political discourse of the Renaissance. He argued that a fundamental political reorientation can be diagnosed in the alterations in the genre of advice or counsel, for example, in reading Machiavelli's Prince as a transformation of...

(The entire section is 7837 words.)

Salvatore DiMaria (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Divine Order, Fate, Fortune and Human Action in Guicciardini's Storia d'Italia," Forum Italicum, Vol. 28, No. 1, Spring, 1994, pp. 22-40.

[In the following essay, DiMaria argues that Guicciardini's Storia d'Italia reflects the spirit of the times; that is, Guicciardini acknowledges the large part that fortune plays in an increasingly complex world even as he asserts that individuals have a measure of power over events.]

The decades of relative calm and political stability preceding the death of Lorenzo de' Medici (1492) undoubtedly contributed to the humanist belief in one's ability to influence the course of human affairs. The prevailing mood of...

(The entire section is 9005 words.)

Alison Brown (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Introduction to Dialogue on the Government of Florence, by Francesco Guicciardini, edited and translated by Alison Brown, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. vii-xxviii.

[In the following excerpt, Brown provides a close assessment of Guicciardini's Dialogue, compares his work to that of his colleague Machiavelli, and concludes that while Guicciardini preferred freedom to tyranny, he was ultimately a practical man who believed in realpolitik.]

The year 1509 … marks Francesco's initiation into the life of politics, when he was summoned for the first time to a consultative meeting of citizens, or pratica (see Glossary). In 1511, aged only 28, he...

(The entire section is 8174 words.)