Oceana2602's Reviews > Die Vermessung der Welt

Die Vermessung der Welt by Daniel Kehlmann
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's review
Feb 01, 08

bookshelves: 2008, german, biographies, science, male-writers
Recommended to Oceana2602 by: FAZ
Recommended for: everyone
Read in January, 2008

Daniel Kehlmann's Measuring the World was one of my birthday presents last year, and I waited almost a year to finally read it. Even though it had been on my wishlist, when it suddenly sat there on my shelf, the idea of reading about pre-industrialization Germany, about Humboldt and Gauß, two boring old scientist, seemed rather dreadful.

I should have known better. Measuring the World is not a science book. It's not about two boring old men either, though it is about two old scientist. And the way Kehlmann describes them, you feel as if you had known them forever from the first moment. Humboldt's enthusiam, his absolute NEED to measure things, to experience, not to miss anything no matter at what cost, is as palpable as Gauß's displeasure at traveling, a cranky old geezer is, I think, what one would call him (or "ein griesgrämiger alter Kauz"). Kehlmann makes both of them exceptionally human, with all the flaws, and at the same time manages to describe their genius without forcing it on the reader. Their stories become cleverly interwoven and mixed up with Kehlmann's excellent dialogues.

The book captivated me and made me laugh out loud more than once. Historical or scientific value or accuracy may have been sacrificed for entertainment in many cases, but that seems only fitting in the time we live. ;-)

P.S.: I read the original German version, so I don't know if the English translation is any good. I'd be interested in opinions.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Anna Polish translation is great. I laugh out loud at some moments. Suberb.

Effi Lerch the german version is a lot better. sometimes books don't work in other languages like stuff only germans can laugh about. it has a lot jokes and quotations of other german literature like brechts galilei.

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