Le Gente

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(First written as a fun review of The Prince (1513)
by
 Niccolò Machiavelli on Goodreads August 4, 2016
by Sidharth Vardhan)


I don’t know how come I never reviewed this one but recently I was visiting this friend of mine in south India, Pramod (yes, the one from Goodreads), when he showed me this not-so-popular smaller piece, allegedly written by the author in his last days, ‘Le Gente’ and never published – for common people about how they can succeed in social life using diplomacy.

There were only twenty copies of same written in 19th century, of which Pramod’s was one. Since he is a sort of book-worshipper, he won’t let me touch it. Needless to say, I stole it before starting on my return journey.

If he finds about this review, he might unfriend me and sue me for theft – so this review won’t be here too long. Anyway, in case of a legal action, I can always take shelter in points 14, 16 and 17 below.

…Ever since my return, I have been made to understand that critics believe these copies to be forgeries, none of these copies completely agree amongst themselves. Moreover, the writing style and some of the words used, suggest a later day authorship.

That being said, I think mine (or Pramod’s) made some good points, although they weren’t all so original. It will seem them that past and present owners of these copies have been quoting them without mentioning their source.

Since document is medieval and vague, I have been able to translate it only partially. Google translator helps only so much. Here are a few tips I found (I will add more, whenever I’m able to decipher the rest of it):

1. Honesty might win you friends, but not the powerful ones. (The later will be your enemies.)

2. If you delay it to the last moment and pretend to be anxious, one of your friends will come in and want to help you finish the project. Best way to half your workload.

3. Tell them an obvious lie to begin with. This will make them think that you are a bad lier and they will be inclined to believe in your more-cleverly told lies.

4. If you hate doing something – do it wrong the first time, they won’t ask you to do it again.

5. Honesty is a terrible policy, that is, unless you put it on auction,
or,
Character doesn’t buy food – not unless you get a good price for it.

6. Always pretend to be extremely religious. It creates a halo effect and makes people invest in you, virtues you don’t have. Also, if you are lucky, call it ‘Karma’, If you are unlucky, call it ‘God’s mysterious ways’. Always say ‘God willing’ whenever you make a promise – the best way to shrug off responsibility if you don’t want to honor your promise.

7. A clever person always appreciates polite friends. They will let you walk all over them and take credit for their hard work. Nothing like them.

8. Never be on time. Let them wait for you. Teaches them b\how to value you.

9. Lying shows lack of art. The cleverness lies in telling people the selective truth. Still, if you have to lie, do. Scientists say there are alternative worlds in which almost everything is the truth. So, technically you can’t tell a lie. And you can’t be accused if people just assume that you are speaking only of this world.

10. Any show of your real sentiments is a weakness. The ability to show the sentiments that people want to see, even if you don’t have them, on the other hand, is a strength.

11. Never ever let the underdogs fool you into kindness.

12. Always have someone handy to blame* your failure upon.

13. Be quiet, and they will think of you as very wise. Be too talkative, and they will think of you as fools. A clever disguise both ways.

14. If they can’t prove it, you can’t be wrong.

15. If you say it repeatedly and are loud enough, it will become a truth.

16. The only crime is being caught. Criminals have got away with almost everything when they weren’t caught. So, make sure you are never get caught at anything. A clever person reads a law saying ‘Theft is punishable by law’ as ‘Being caught and proved a thief is punishable by law.’

17. At the end of the day, most advocates belong to Devil. And if you happen to come across a righteous one, Devil also happens to have most of the judges. However looking for a legal loophole before you leap is still more beneficial economically.

18. If you owe a bank five thousand dollars, the bank owns you. If you owe a bank five million dollars, you own the bank.

19. Gangsters and soldiers are boys. Managers, Lawyers, priests and politicians are women.

20. Nothing helps in creating money like an unhealthy conscience.

21. There are four kinds of people (the order is such that ones lower in the order have a better chance at being successful);
– those who are good, and are seen by others as good,
– those who are good but are seen by others as wicked.
– those who are and are seen by others as wicked,
– those who are wicked but are seen by others as good (thank you!).

* erroneously written in original Italian as ‘lo borgeso’ instead of ‘lo biasimo’.

Copyright – Sidharth Vardhan


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