Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $4.24 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Measuring the World: A Novel Paperback – October 9, 2007
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Loosely based on the lives of 19th-century explorer Alexander von Humboldt and a contemporary, mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, Kehlmann's novel, a German bestseller widely heralded as an exemplar of "new" German fiction, injects musty history with shots of whimsy and irony. Humboldt voyages to South America to map the Orinoco River, climb the Chimborazo peak in Ecuador and measure "every river, every mountain and every lake in his path." Gauss is the hedgehog to Humboldt's fox, leaping out of bed on his wedding night to jot down a formula and rarely leaving his hometown of Göttingen. The two meet at a scientific congress in 1828, when Germany is in turmoil after the fall of Napoleon. Other luminaries appear throughout the novel, including a senile Immanuel Kant, Louis Daguerre and Thomas Jefferson. The narrative is notable for its brisk pacing, lively prose and wry humor (curmudgeonly Gauss laments, for instance, how "every idiot would be able to... invent the most complete nonsense" about him 200 years hence), which keenly complements Kehlmann's intelligent, if not especially deep, treatment of science, mathematics and reason at the end of the Enlightenment. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
*Starred Review* In 1828, scientist-explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) summons the great mathematician Carl Gauss (1777-1855) to join his party to Berlin, where he is to be feted before embarking on an expedition across Russia to the Urals. The perpetually testy Gauss, whose great trial in life is that everyone else thinks so slowly, which makes virtually any kind of human interaction infuriatingly boring for him (though he does fancy a fine young figure), would go back to sleep, but his wife, Minna, whom he barely tolerates, rousts him out and gets him on the road with youngest son Eugen. They no sooner arrive at Humboldt's mansion than Kehlmann diverges to recap his two principals' lives and careers in chapters alternately concerned with globe-trotting aristocrat Humboldt and genius-from-the-gutter Gauss, who willingly leaves home only to earn a living and escape Minna. The uncomfortable humor of being, in Gauss' case, too brilliant (he frequently bemoans having to live before the innovations he foresees can be constructed or even understood); in Humboldt's, too focused (he scrupulously abjures whole theaters of human experience to concentrate on measuring), suffuses Kehlmann's heady historical novel, which may especially delight science-fiction connoisseurs. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Kehlmann attempts to enliven his narrative by creating extended observations and conversations carried on by his two protagonists--these may or may not be representative of real life occurrences. The overall perspective is probably representative of the lives of these two scientists, but one may wonder how much literary license has been taken by the author in imagining their personal feelings and conversations.
Indeed, this seems to be the main thrust of the book, that Gauss becomes more practical whereas Humboldt, who started as the supreme man of action, ends virtually emasculated by his own fame. But since there is really very little to connect the two men other than the author's demonstration of their differences, the final sections of the book, when the two men finally meet, seem narratively contrived and tail off into confusion. In some respects the novel is reminiscent of ARTHUR AND GEORGE by Julian Barnes, which also starts with two separate historical characters, and also ends in deliberate anticlimax. But whereas Barnes focuses on a real encounter that changed the lives of both protagonists, Kehlmann's great scientists pass like ships in the night. All the same, Humboldt's realization as he is returning from an exhausting and fruitless tour of Russia is apropos and poignant: "But as the first suburbs of Berlin flew past and Humboldt imagined Gauss at that very moment staring through his telescope at heavenly bodies, whose paths he could sum up in simple formulas, all of a sudden he could no longer have said which of them had traveled afar and which of them had always stayed at home."
Over and above the story of these two men, the book offers a fascinating glimpse of the intellectual climate in Germany in the early 1800s, an interesting pendant to the more delicate portrait of early German romanticism painted by Penelope Fitzgerald in THE BLUE FLOWER, her novel about the poet Novalis.