Measuring the World

Measuring the World

Book - 2006
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The young Austrian writer Daniel Kehlmann conjures a brilliant and gently comic novel from the lives of two geniuses of the Enlightenment. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, two young Germans set out to measure the world. One of them, the Prussian aristocrat Alexander von Hum-boldt, negotiates savanna and jungle, travels down the Orinoco, tastes poisons, climbs the highest mountain known to man, counts head lice, and explores every hole in the ground. The other, the barely socialized mathematician and astronomer Carl Friedrich Gauss, does not even need to leave his home in Göttingen to prove that space is curved. He can run prime numbers in his head. He cannot imagine a life without women, yet he jumps out of bed on his wedding night to jot down a mathematical formula. Von Humboldt is known to history as the Second Columbus. Gauss is recognized as the greatest mathematical brain since Newton. Terrifyingly famous and more than eccentric in their old age, the two meet in Berlin in 1828. Gauss has hardly climbed out of his carriage before both men are embroiled in the political turmoil sweeping through Germany after Napoleon's fall. Already a huge best seller in Germany,Measuring the Worldmarks the debut of a glorious new talent on the international scene.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2006.
ISBN: 9780375424465
Branch Call Number: KEHLM
Characteristics: 259 p.


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Oct 12, 2015

This is just popular fiction and not that clever.

Jun 15, 2015

Great writing, hilarious.

Jan 30, 2015

The points of contact between this pair of early scientists seemed contrived; and manages to veer off on themes of religious, political and marital freedom. The translation from German was sloppy with Humboldt writing three "sides" in his diary rather than "pages" (p. 36) and traveling on a steam ship with "motors" rather than "boilers" sending 'stinking smoke into the air' (p. 247). The author should have elaborated on the relationship between Humboldt and his 'collaborator' Bonpland - and abandoned the Gauss connection.

Jan 29, 2015

This book is probably more interesting in the original German language. This translated version does not flow so well. It is none the less a very good story, based on great historical figures.


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Jan 30, 2015

"The inhabitants of the mission were turning spits over a fire with the head of a child, three tiny hands, and four little feet ... Not human, explained the missionary. They stopped that wherever they could. Just little monkeys from the forest. 9p. 112)"

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