Greensburg Central Catholic grad takes novel approach to Machiavelli
Writers are encouraged to write what they know, and Greensburg native Joe Markulin knows the Italian Renaissance.
Markulin's novel, “Machiavelli: A Renaissance Life” is complete with violence, treachery, heroism, betrayal, sex, bad popes and noble outlaws.
The 1969 graduate of Greensburg Central Catholic High School, who holds a doctoral degree in Italian, is considered a specialist in the Italian Renaissance. “Machiavelli means something to a lot of people,” said Markulin, who now resides in Roxbury, N.Y. “And I knew a lot about him.”
Often called the father of modern political theory, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He authored “The Prince,” a political treatise.
Markulin's is among the few novels written about Machiavelli, although there are more than 500 biographies about him.
“For me, it was an easy topic,” said Markulin. “The challenge is taking history and turning it into fiction. I kept the history as straight as I could and then made up things about his personal life to fill in the blanks because I think that's what historical novelists do.”
Mary Dearborn, a Massachusetts writer of biographies who has known Markulin since they were both professors, believes he captured the essence of that century perfectly.
“I think it's brilliant. You can imagine yourself in Florence at that time ... the smells in the air, what you'd wear, what you'd eat ... all of it is of that time,” she said. “I don't know what the real Machiavelli was like, but that's where Joe's inventiveness comes in. His Machiavelli is an unforgettable character.”
Markulin's former graduate school professor in the doctoral program at Indiana University, Peter Bondanella, couldn't agree more. Bondanella, who says Markulin was one of the smartest students he ever had, taught a course on Machiavelli.
“Joe shows complexity of thought and character,” said Bondanella, who has retired and lives in St. George, Utah. “Of all the people I'd like to meet, Machiavelli would be one of them.”
He believes the novel sets up a very complex character who is different from what most people think.
Markulin, a former professor of Italian and comparative literature with a specialization in medieval and Renaissance studies, also worked in public relations in New York City.
Today, in addition to writing, Markulin hosts an accordion music radio show, “In Heaven There is No Beer,” on WIOX 91.3 FM.
He is already working on his second book, “The Crusades.”
Exposed to accordion music as a child through his Italian/Croatian upbringing, Markulin says he wanted to do a radio show that no one else was doing. Although he plays a bit himself, he joked that he's not very musically inclined.
Markulin spent six months writing his first novel.
“It's a well-written book, he worked very hard at it,” said Bondanella. “Some people may think he made up a lot, but he didn't. He's put it into a historical framework. He's sticking more to the truth of the character. Everything about Machiavelli is true, just maybe embellished a little.”
“Machiavelli: A Renaissance Life,” (Prometheus, 720 pages) costs $21.95 in paperback. It is available as an eBook for $12.95 at www.amazon.com.
Michele Stewardson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Greensburg Salem grads make mark at Air Force Academy
- I-70 changes force New Stanton to look for a plan
- Hempfield teen masterminds Youngwood landscaping
- Bowling tournament honors Hempfield coach