You should read the book and see what he means/meant by......

Question: Do we use present or past tense for a book? And does it matter if it's fictional books (Shakespeare) or fact (political/religion)

  • The example context is "pathological", because as well as presenting the "backshift or not?" issue for the (still current) meaning of past utterances / text, it's introducing further "temporal distractions" encapsulated in the implied future act of reading. I don't think any useful syntactic principle can be extracted from such an "unusual" context. – FumbleFingers Feb 5 at 17:33

Either "means" or "meant" is acceptable.

If you were being really fussy, you might say

You should read Keynes's book "The Theory of Money" and see what it means

The intended meaning of a book's text does not change over time, and so its intended meaning is now what it ever was. Or you might say

"You should read Keynes's book "The Theory of Money" and see what he meant

Obviously Keynes does not currently intend any meaning today: he is dead. Moreover, it is conceivable (indeed highly likely) that Keynes changed his mind after writing that book and did not even intend that meaning at times while he was alive but had finished that book.

But, as I said, this is being very careful in what you write. No one should fault you for using "it means" or "it meant."

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