DUBAI // A 13-page book billed by the author as "the most expensive in the world" will be on display at Art Dubai next March. Tomas Alexander Hartmann, 45, who describes himself as one of the world's greatest philosophers, says he worked for 30 years on The Task, which he listed in the register of German Books in Print in December 2007 for 153 million (Dh866m). The book, which first appeared at Book Expo America in Los Angeles in May and will travel to Frankfurt for another publishing fair in October, is the "most important book ever written", according to Hartmann.
The author will also introduce a book of poetry in Frankfurt, which will be on sale comparatively cheaply at 1.53m. Mr Hartmann said he set the price of The Task in accordance with the value of the wisdom it contains, adding: "It holds an insight that will not be reached by anyone else in the foreseeable future." When asked why The Task was more valuable than Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester, which was sold in 1994 to Bill Gates for US$30.8m, he said: "Because in my book, the three most important questions of human race are answered."
In fewer than 300 sentences, Mr Hartmann attempts to answer what he calls the "final important questions of humankind". Where do we come from? Where are we going? What is the real task we still have to take on? The idea to write "the book of books" came to Mr Hartmann at the age of 13. "I simply had to know why I am of this world and where this world comes from," he said. "These were the very first questions I asked myself in life."
The book is bound with two gold plates and the text inside the book is set in eight languages. Mr Hartmann refused The National's request for a review copy because there is only one copy of the book. When asked if he thought the book would sell, he replied: "If people buy ground on the moon, they will buy a book for 153m." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org