Thursday, 26 February 2015

How to achieve true greatness

Title of Book:   How to achieve true greatness

Subtitle:  None

Author : Baldesar Castiglione 1478-1529

Publisher  Penguin Books * Great Ideas series

ISBN  9780-14102388-5

Genre:            Self help from the Renaissance – a conversation among courtiers on ideal courtier. The discussion of a 16th Century syndicate group!

 This booklet consists of extracts from the unabridged Book of the Courtier translated by George Bull. This edition works as a taster to the unabridged version.

Style:  Witty, wise and perceptive of the human condition.

Contents page:    Book 1  , Book 2.  !

This is rather misleading since the full version translated by George Bull  consists of the original four books.
This edited version is a depiction of the conversation over two evening rather the original four.  For example The end of this abridged version is taken from the ending of the fourth evening .

Index: No Index -  ( 5 pages double columns in the unabridged version)

Flick through eye appeal: No pictures, cartoons, diagrams, and tables.  Not sure this précis requires it though . It is only 93 pages.  

There a 10 sides of plain paper to make your own notes and reflections.

‘Time for a breather’ stops :   I would suggest take a break for reflection after each speaker

Golden Nuggets:   “ He should accompany his every act with a certain grace and fine judgement”

“ ..practise in all things a certain nonchalance which conceals all artistry and makes whatever one says or does seem uncontrived and effortless”
“We must consider the merit of good deeds in two principal things: to choose a truly virtuous end for our intentions and to know how to find convenient and suitable means for its containment”

Topic Summary:  “It is necessary to have a master who by his teaching and precepts stirs and awakens the moral virtues whose seed is and enclosed and buried in our souls”

War Stories:  There are some references to real war stories of these gentlemen at arms. Also good anecdotes that have timeless appeal.

Illustration: None

  “..everyone praises or condemns according to his own opinion, always camouflaging a vice under the name of a corresponding virtue, or a virtue of the corresponding vice. E.g. the presumptuous man will be called frank, a modest man, dull; a simple man good; a rascal, shrewd; and so on and so forth”  Count Lodovico da Canossa
Short Review:  This edition could be called Book-of-the-Courtier-lite . It's a great read.

From the LinkedIn profile to  HR penchant for Job Descriptions and Person Specification the attributes, skills and knowledge of job roles can be listed in a group exercise in a training course. 

  However in this little book of wisdom, the extended conversation of the pros and cons , the various nuanced qualities that make for a successful courtier.( or a modern sales professional, account manager, business developer ) are an entertaining read. They give you time to consider the balance required.

Agenda Item:  Courts of power still exist today. 

They are the boardrooms, the Corporate HQs. Even in our era of the Industrial Internet of Things the art of the modern courtier can be enhanced through reading  Castiglione’s classic.

Should wish to go straight to the full original:

The Book of the Courtier by Baldesar Castiglione is published by Penguin Classics  ISBN 978-0-14-044192-5

1 comment:

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