Machiavelli on Geography (The Prince)

The Prince. Chapter XIV. Paragraph 4.

“…and learns something of the nature of localities, and gets to find out how the mountains rise, how the valleys open out, how the plains lie, and to understand the nature of rivers and marshes, and in all this to take the greatest care. Which knowledge is useful in two ways.”

“Firstly, he learns to know his country, and is better able to undertake its defence;”

(1) For the immediate benefit of learning geography

“afterwards, by means of the knowledge and observation of that locality, he understands with ease any other which it may be necessary for him to study hereafter; because the hills, valleys, and plains, and rivers and marshes that are, for instance, in Tuscany, have a certain resemblance to those of other countries, so that with a knowledge of the aspect of one country one can easily arrive at a knowledge of others. And the prince that lacks this skill lacks the essential which it is desirable that a captain should possess, for it teaches him to surprise his enemy, to select quarters, to lead armies, to array the battle, to besiege towns to advantage.”

(2) For the recurring benefit in later situations

More abstractly, there is a benefit to learning about something which is ever-present and applicable everywhere.


Diagram: Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez

In my senior year of high-school we read Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez. The narrator acts as an investigator who tries to piece-together what happened to Santiago Nasser. The narrator, and consequently the author, uses time to convey a sense of intensity and rising action. I took the effort one evening to graph the time in the novel against the page number. I have a crude photo of the diagram below.
Chronicle Timeline

Each point indicates a specific reference made by the narrator to something which happens at a particular time. The lines connecting two points indicate that the narrator generally continues to the next time (point). When the narrator jumps around the lines become separated.

The diagram allows the reader to visualize how the Marquez uses the order of events discussed to tell the story. In the beginning the narrator speaks chronologically. The long shallow lines indicate that the narrator is taking lots of time to describe a small series of events. The narrator then jumps back in time near page 23. The middle of the book includes the most violent of time shifts. This, coincidentally, is when the reader is most confused and perplexed.

It is difficult to analyze the book in terms of standard plot mechanisms; Marquez reveals the ending in the very first sentence of the book. In general, the entire book is centered around the stabbing of Santiago Nasser. The beginning and ending of the book tell of this time frame. The middle section of the book progresses in a more chronological nature. Thus, giving at least some footing to the title “Chronicle of a Death Foretold”.