London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1936. First edition, second printing. Hardcover. This is the first edition, second printing, of the most famous work of perhaps the most influential economist of the twentieth century. This second printing of the first edition was published in March 1936, just a month after the first printing of February 1936. Condition is noteworthy, very good plus in a very good plus original dust jacket.
The dark green cloth binding is square, clean, bright, and tight with sharp corners and vivid spine gilt. We note only trivial wrinkling to the spine ends and a barely discernible hint of mottling to the lower spine. The contents retain a crisp, unread feel. Differential toning to the endpapers corresponding to the dust jacket flaps confirms that this copy has spent life jacketed. The sole previous ownership mark is a tiny, circular, red ink stamp on the front free endpaper recto. We would grade this copy as “fine” if not for spotting, intermittent throughout, heavy only to the first and final leaves and page edges. Second printing is confirmed by the print history on the title page verso. The dust jacket is complete, with no loss or tears. “SECOND IMPRESSION” is printed on the the lower spine, delineating it from the first printing of a month prior. The jacket is generally clean, though the spine is mildly toned with a few darker spots to the upper spine. Both the upper front face and upper rear face feature a roughly semi-circular portion of toning extending to a maximum depth of 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) from the top edge. The dust jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.
John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes (1883–1946) was, at once, “philosopher, economist, editor, pamphleteer, company chairman, college bursar, patron of the arts and intimate friend of writers and artists, government spokesman and adviser.” Nonetheless, “It is primarily as an economist that Keynes is remembered” and in which his influence is most conspicuously manifest.
The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money encapsulates Keynes’s fundamental challenge to the economic orthodoxy of the day. The review quotes on the front face of the dust jacket are indicative. The Manchester Guardian is quoted as calling the work “A profoundly disturbing book…” Time & Tide said “It is going to open a new epoch in economic inquiry.” The Economist similarly opined “What Mr. Keynes is building is in total something wholly new.” Unusual for reviews, this was not hyperbole. The work expounded on a central tenet of what became Keynesian economics – that government intervention can, and should, stabilize the economy.
Soon after the 1930 publication of A Treatise on Money, Keynes “had begun to reconsider what governed the level of output and employment… The outcome of his rethinking was the publication in February 1936 of the chief of his major theoretical works, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. This contained a new and radical analysis of economic instability.” (ODNB) Keynes “argued in The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935–36) that there exists an inverse relationship between unemployment and inflation and that governments should manipulate fiscal policy to ensure a balance between the two.” (Britannica) Keynes challenged the prevailing notion that it was not government’s role to manage the economy. Keynes argued for government intervention in the economy as a way to mitigate cyclical gains and losses. And government’s role, Keynes argued, was not minor, but should involve working actively to secure full employment, manage the money supply, adjust interest rates, and intervene with government spending.
“The General Theory gave rise to intense and prolonged controversy. Older economists tended to be highly critical of Keynes's ideas, and many thought them a recipe for inflation, while younger economists in general accepted them with enthusiasm.” (ODNB). Item #007409