The Enigma of the TreatiseDioguardi

 Author: Gianfranco Dioguardia


Print (paperback)        ISBN: 978-1-909287-40-2    Recommended price: £20.00/$32.00/€24.00

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ISBN (digital PDF):       978-1-909287-41-9

ISBN (epub):                  978-1-909287-43-3

ISBN (mobi):                  978-1-909287-42-6

Recommended price:   £20.00/$32.00/€24.00

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A strange and anonymous pamphlet was published in 1740 and the ensuing quest to determine its authorship has, several centuries later, given rise to an intriguing and fascinating series of events. This has unfolded through detailed and meticulous bibliophilic analyses and has generated heated and controversial debate about the identity of the author of the pamphlet.

The protagonists in this intellectual adventure are two celebrated economists - John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa – who both lived and taught in Cambridge and were united by a close intellectual relationship as well as a profound friendship. And, naturally, a further major protagonist is David Hume himself, who is discovered to have been the nameless author of the pamphlet.

The reconstruction of this intriguing episode, put forward in this compact and highly readable book, offers the opportunity to revisit the original Introduction on which the two Cambridge economists placed their joint signatures. It was published by Cambridge University Press in 1938, in an edition that also featured the facsimile text of Hime's short essay, which had lain in obscurity for almost two hundred years. Today, the pamphlet is reporduced in The Enigma of the Treatise.

Key Features 

Economics is often regarded as technical, dry and not easy to read; however, this book, as its title The Enigma of the Treatise suggests, is far from dry and difficult to read. It follows the intricate trail of investigation into the mystery of who wrote the Treatise when and why.

The book is of interest not only to economists but also to historians and, in general, to bibliophiles for whom the controversial history of a given publication is, in itself, a subject worthy of investigation.

Although the philosophy of Hume is well known, the text discussed in this book is relatively poorly known, having lain in oblivion for several centuries until its revival by the two famous economists mentioned in the book (Keynes and Sraffa). 

The examination of the two economists’ contribution to the debate on the Abstract provides a hitherto neglected insight into their cultural and bibliophilic interests.

In contrast to many lengthy tomes on economics, which at times sacrifice the pleasure of reading to academic seriousness, The Enigma of the Treatise, of relatively short, ensures ‘readability’ that stimulates the interest of students; the book also reaches out (without sacrificing scholarly investigation) to the broader reading public of non-practitioners.



Economists and historians; bibliophiles. The book is aimed at both practitioners and students.

ISBN (print):                  978-1-909287-40-2

ISBN (digital PDF):      978-1-909287-41-9

ISBN (epub):                 978-1-909287-43-3

ISBN (mobi):                 978-1-909287-42-6

Publication date:          2013  

Territorial rights:           worldwide

Number of pages:       78     

Size (print):                  234mm x 156mm

Readership:                university and professional

BIC2 code(s):             KCZ, KCA 

BISAC code(s):          BUS023000 


A few opening remarks


The quirks of chance 

The protagonists of an unusual adventure 

An intricate and intriguing story 

Lo and behold, other copies of the Abstract materialize 

The investigation performed by Keynes and Sraffa 

Revisiting the Introduction by John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa 

A few doubts arise concerning the true authorship of the Abstract  

Notes and References 

Appendix: the text of An Abstract of a Book lately Published; entituled, A Treatise of Human Nature, &c.

About the Author

Professor Gianfranco Dioguardi is a retired full professor from the Politecnico University of Bari (Italy), where he taught economics and business organisation. He is the author of numerous articles and books (published in Italy, France, English-speaking countries and Germany) on the topic of management organisation and entrepreneurship. He has also cultivated a lifelong interest in the world of ideas in the broad sense, with particular reference to history, philosophy, science and bibliophily. In this context he has published important essays on the Eighteenth Century – the Century of Enlightenment - and recently, in 2010, a book entitled Network Enterprises, which was published as part of the Springer ‘Innovation, Technology and Knowledge Management’ Series.

He has twice received a decoration in the form of a gold medal bestowed on him by the President of the Italian Republic: in 1996, upon the proposal of the Minister of Education, for meritorious achievement in Education, Culture and Art and, in 2001, upon the proposal by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific and Technological Research, for meritorious achievement in Science and Culture.

In 1989 he was awarded the Order of Merit for Labour, thereby becoming Cavaliere del Lavoro of the Italian Republic, and in 2004 he was awarded with the title of Knight of the Legion of Honour of the French Republic, thus becoming Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur of the French Republic.

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