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Measuring the World

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  10,435 ratings  ·  790 reviews
Towards the end of the 18th century, naturalist and explorer, Alexander von Humboldt and mathematician and physicist, Carl Friedrich Gauss, set out to measure the world. This novel brings the two eccentric geniuses to life.
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published 2007 by Quercus (first published 2005)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Die Vermessung der Welt = Measuring the World, Daniel Kehlmann
Measuring the World is a novel by German author Daniel Kehlmann, 2005 published by Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek. The novel re-imagines the lives of German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and German geographer Alexander von Humboldt—who was accompanied on his journeys by Aimé Bonpland—and their many groundbreaking ways of taking the world's measure, as well as Humboldt's and Bonpland's travels in America and their meeting in 1828. One su
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Lisa
"I want to explore the world!"

That is a quite common answer if you ask a group of motivated preteen students what they want to do when they grow up. Hungry little caterpillars, they eat their way through a mixed diet of knowledge and skills over the course of their education before entering the strange teenage cocoon stage when they can't be bothered with anything but their own physical and social development.

As a teacher, you look at all these potential explorers, and their diverse approaches
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Mohammed  Ali
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
تخرج من الإمتحان بعد ثلاث ساعات كاملة .. آلام في الرأس .. آلام في الكتفين من الوضع المنحني على الورقة .. آلام في العينين .. تذهب إلى أقرب زاوية لتبتعد عن الكلام .. تريد أن تستعيد تواجدك في العالم الحقيقي تدريجيا .. بعد أن كنت متواجدا في عالم الأرقام والمعادلات .. تسترخي قليلا محاولا إبعاد نفسك عن التفكير في إحاباتك على الورقة .. خمس دقائق تمضي .. عشر دقائق .. الآن تتمشى قليلا لتعيد ضخ الدماء إلى رجليك اليابستين من أثر الجلوس لمدة طويلة .. تمر ببعض الأصدقاء .. تحييهم بابتسامة .. يردها بعضهم والبع ...more
BrokenTune
"It was both odd and injust, said Gauss, a real example of the pitiful arbitrariness of existence, that you were born into a particular time and held prisoner there whether you wanted it or not. It gave you an indecent advantage over the past and made you a clown vis-a-vis the future."

I'm not sure what to make of this one: I didn't love it, I didn't hate it. It certainly was not what I expected.

I do admire Kehlmann for trying a different angle on a historical novel about two eminent characters i
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Giò
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gdl-reali
Non basta un’idea

Bella pensata ha fatto il filosofo Daniel Kehlmann decidendo di scrivere un doppio romanzo sulla vita di due eminenti scienziati tedeschi vissuti a cavallo del diciottesimo e diciannovesimo secolo! Sì, perché l’idea di raccontare due personalità antitetiche, e quindi complementari, sia dal punto di vista caratteriale che storico, è proprio accattivante.
Da un lato von Humboldt, geografo, naturalista ed esploratore, ricco aristocratico, eccentrico, curioso ed espansivo. Uno che è
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Gypsy
اینقد درهم برهم بود که یه جاهایی داستان از زیر دستم در میرفت! ولی طنزش تو بعضی جمله ها و جریانات خیلی خوش نشسته بود. ریتم خوبش باعث میشد بتونی باهاش همراهی کنی. شخصیت ها ولی، نمدونم چرا جز یه سری چیزهای برجسته، نتونستن تو ذهنم بمونن.

" هر چیز مربوط به بدن، منبع واقعی تمام نکبت هاست."

K.D. Absolutely
Aug 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2010)
Shelves: 1001-non-core
Fascinating read. A scientific historical novel (first published in 2005) originally written in German by young author, Daniel Kehlmann (born 1975). It is said to be the worldwide bestselling German novel since Patrick Suskind's Perfume in 1985.

This is a story of a two scientists during the time of Napoleon reign in Europe. The first scientist is Alexander von Humboldt who is a botanist, geologist and an explorer. He has an elder brother Wilhelm von Humboldt who lives a "normal" life, i.e., stu
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Gumble's Yard
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fictional account of the lives and meeting (towards the end of their lives at a scientific congress that Humboldt holds) of two great German scientists – the naturalist and geographer Alexander von Humboldt (whose brother was also a great politician and linguist) – who explored and opened up and the mathematician and physicist Gauss. The translated English is written in a simple and slightly stilting style but is easy to read and the range of ideas and concepts covered is what makes the book.

As
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Oceana2602
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Oceana2602 by: FAZ
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 wa
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GiuseppeB
Nov 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ormai l'ho letto, letto e finito e non posso più tornare indietro, quando ancora mi beavo nella mia ignoranza e pure ignoravo l'esitenza di questo libro e anche l'autore mi era sconosciuto.
Ormai è fatta, la mia vita sarà per sempre segnata da questa lettura, non è grave, mi riprenderò.
Come si dice: è stata un'esperienza, ho perso tempo, ma vuoi mettere il valore dell'esperienza.

"Niente di ciò che qualcuno aveva misurato una volta poteva mai più essere come prima" (p.227)

Ecco anche la mia vita n
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Alexandra
Ein wunderschöner Roman über Gauß und Humboldt, der einem die Zeit der großen Dichter und Denker näherbringt und den eigentlich leeren Namen deutscher Genies aus dem Geschichtsunterricht wie Humboldt, Gauß, Kant, Goethe... Leben einhaucht und sie sehr sehr menschlich macht.
Tijana
Ovo je treća knjiga Danijela Kelmana koju čitam, posle Malerovog vremena i neke zbirke eseja kojoj se ni naslova ne sećam, a te dve su bile dovoljno neupečatljive da baš dugo nisam osetila ni najmanju želju da konačno pročitam Kelmanov najveći hit.
Ispostavilo se da bi to baš bila greška. Premeravanje sveta je, naime, beskrajno zabavna i duhovita knjiga. Ok, smejanje nemačkom humoru je ajmo reći stečena dispozicija, ali Kelman se na jednom mestu i njemu podsmeva, kao što se u ovom romanu podsmev
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Sandra
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: narrativa
Prima di leggere il libro, conoscevo di nome Gauss, mentre quello di Humboldt potrebbe essere apparso nei miei studi scolastici ma subito è stato dimenticato. Quindi la lettura è stata utile principalmente per conoscere questi due scienziati, di cui vengono narrate le avventure in capitoli alterni: ambedue tedeschi, di origini diversissime -popolare il primo, figlio di un giardiniere; di famiglia nobile il secondo- hanno vissuto vite del tutto diverse, l’uno, “enfant prodige” della matematica, s ...more
Rebecca
“Whenever things were frightening, it was a good idea to measure them.” This is a delightful historical picaresque about two late-eighteenth-century German scientists: Alexander von Humboldt, who valiantly explored South America and the Russian steppes, and Carl Friedrich Gauss, a misanthropic mathematician whose true genius wasn’t fully realized in his surveying and astronomical work. Both difficult in their own way, the men represent different models for how to do science: an adventurous one w ...more
Stef Smulders
Don't like this book. The characters of the historical figures of Gauss and Von Humboldt are flat, like in a graphic novel. As a result it is even difficult to keep the two apart. I do not see the sense of using real people in a novel if you do not try to develop their psychology, not try to understand their motives, doubts, struggles. In this novel it remains superficial. There is some humor, yes, but again, what is this book meant to be? A satire? Of what? As a historical novel I cannot take i ...more
beloved books by Tine
jetzt weiß ich wieder, warum ich es noch nie zu Ende gelesen hatte. merkwürdiger inhalt, alles auseinander gerissen. kein wirklicher Anfang und kein wirkliches Ende und ständige Zeitsprünge, was nicht mal gesagt wird. wenn man es nicht merkt, Pech. dazu keine wörtliche Rede. naja es wird immer mehr, was nicht so toll ist.
aber ich bin stolz auf mich. ich habe es endlich geschafft zu beenden.
Nicola
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a Bill Bryson fan so I'm used to reading about the quirky characters that history throws up; men (and sometimes women) of vast and fascinating eccentricity, whose contribution to science and progress is given that extra soupçon of interest by their delightful battiness.

In Measuring the World we have exhibit A: Alexander von Humbold - a Prussian aristocrat with rampant OCD, determined to measure everything around him in an effort to quantify and so, understand, the world.

and exhibit B: Carl
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Shovelmonkey1
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with low latent inhibition of which i am one
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list and apoloniaX
So 200 years ago the world was a pretty big place. Not any bigger than it is now but it had the feel of a larger ball of rock as many humans were still scrambling about "discovering" places. Note - most of these places had already been discovered by the people who lived in them. They just didn't shout about it in quite the same way. It is also interesting to note that the people doing the scrambling about were, for the most part, European. Is this because all Europe-ers are massive nosy bastards ...more
Beata
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just wanted to take a short break from two extremely serious and depressing books I'm reading at the moment and thought that plunging into the worlds of two geniuses would be perfect. Re-reading this novel is as fascinating as it was while reading it for the first time.
Jelena
“Die Vermessung der Welt“ is incredibly funny. In an intelligent, refined and sophisticated way.

The story is a quite simple one: Parallelly told are the lives of two German 19th-century scientists, Alexander von Humboldt and Carl-Friedrich Gauß. And you do not need any particular scientific knowledge or interest to find the book appealing. On the other hand, the story itself is not the point, it never is (at least not to me). If I had to isolate the element from which the entire beauty of this n
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Cxr
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Un romanzo di divulgazione scientifica, ambientato all’inizio dell’ottocento con il matematico Gauss e il geografo Alexander Humboldt come protagonisti prometteva di essere interessante, soprattutto nel racconto del loro il loro incontro/confronto a Berlino nel 1828 promesso nella quarta di copertina.
E invece anche questo libro non sfugge ai cliché dello scienziato distratto, ai limiti dell’autistico, irascibile, egoista, avulso dalla realtà e socialmente incapace. Con l’aggravante che si parla
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Maria Clara
Es una buena lectura. Realmente he disfrutado leyendo la historia de estos dos genios. Por un lado tenemos al gruñón de Gauss, que me ha hecho entender mejor la mentalidad de un genio: las "pausas" que la gente normal utilizamos antes de contestar y que a él exaspera; el cómo cualquier cosa puede ser la respuesta o la pregunta de una incógnita; el hecho de que viva en una burbuja donde sólo es capaz de ver números, ni personas ni sentimientos. También he disfrutado con las aventuras de Thumboldt ...more
Haman
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-novel
وقتی یک چیزی دارد رو به شکست می رود ، باید رهایش کرد چون نمی شود جلوش را گرفت
Rosenkavalier
Vite parallele

Vite parallele di due grandi scienziati, il matematico Carl Gauss e il geografo Alexander von Humboldt.
Entrambi genii bambini, entrambi con un'infanzia anomala e famiglie disfunzionali (o forse così appaiono a noi, viste da qui).
Risultato: il primo diventa un adulto misantropo e un giudice molto sprezzante dell'intelligenza altrui (mai sufficiente). Il secondo diventa un adulto anaffettivo per quanto curioso di tutto, incluso degli altri esseri umani (che però osserva come fossero
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Kathrin
Picking up the book I knew more about Alexander von Humboldt than Carl Friedrich Gauss. My lifelong love for museums confronted me a lot with Humboldt's expeditions while the only knowledge I had of Gauss goes back to my school days.

What intrigued me the most was a sole question - would the author be able to hold my interest. Reading (or listening to) a biographical novel can be frustrating when the author ventures too far into details. It's easy to be overwhelmed with too much information.
In
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Wolfgang
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nach so langer Zeit, endlich gelesen. Es ist so viel geschrieben worden ueber Kehlmanns "Meisterwerk". Na ja, vom Stuhl gerissen hat es mich am Ende doch nicht so.

Wie vielerorts besser beschrieben, geht es um eine, sehr launig geschriebene Doppel-Biografie von Gauss und Alexander Humboldt. Der eine erforscht die externe Welt und wird extrem berühmt als Erforscher Süd-Amerikas. Der andere ist Mathematiker, Physiker und letztlich hat er doch auch als Vermesser begonnen. Beide werden ineffektiv im
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Ken
Outside of my comfort zone, which sometimes works out and sometimes does not. In this case, a historical novel about a German explorer named Humboldt and a German mathematician and astronomer named Gauss. Some chapters you get the explorer (more entertaining, if episodic due to the movement in the Americas) and some chapters. you get the math (eh).

Brief scenes of interest, but not so gripping after all, and little investment in the characters who are anything but warm, fuzzy types. Rather the s
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Elahe
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
موضوع کتاب در رابطه با دو تا دانشمنده. در رابطه با دو تا نابغه. هومبلت جغرافی دانیه که به سرزمین های زیادی سفر کرده و خیلی مکان های ناشناخته ای کشف کرده و تمام عمرشو صرف اندازه گیری تپه ها وکوه ها و... کرده.و همچین داستان روایت کننده ی زندگی گاوس ریاضی دان و ستاره شناس برجسته و معروف که کشف های خارق العاده و جالبی رو به دنیا ارائه می کنه.این دو نفر با هم ملاقات می کنن و هدفشون اندازه گیری دنیائه.
برای من خوندن این کتاب خیلی لذت بخش بود و موقع خوندنش گذر زمان و حس نمیکردم. طنز جالبی و نثر روانی دا
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Friederike Knabe
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-lit
I read this back in 2007 in English, now in German for a book club. Here is my 2007 review.

It is not uncommon to find fictional accounts of the lives of famous historical figures, nor of encounters between them. Kehlmann's book is unusual in its choice of personalities and in the way in which he creates an entertaining description of the two. In the late eighteenth century, Carl Friedrich Gauss and Alexander von Humboldt had both embarked on the same quest: finding a new way of measuring the wor
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Daren
I don't read a lot of fiction, but this is fictionalised - and appears to contain a lot of fact related to the travel and the science (and mathematics) of the two central characters - Alexander von Humboldt & Carl Friedrich Gauss. Both German, and contemporary, it is not clear to me if they ever met or were colleagues / friends, as they are in this book.

Both fascinating men, but very different in their approach to their fields. Humboldt embodies inductive science - based on observation and e
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Goodreads Librari...: translator omitted 2 21 Jun 07, 2016 10:09PM  
Eyes wide open: Daniel Kehlmann: Measuring the World 6 33 Nov 21, 2013 02:07AM  
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Daniel Kehlmann is a German-Austrian author.

His novel Measuring the World was translated into more than forty languages. Awards his work has received include the Candide Prize, the Literature Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Heimito von Doderer Literature Award, the Kleist Prize, the WELT Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize. Kehlmann divides his time between Vienna and Berlin.
“Whenever things were frightening, it was a good idea to measure them.” 3 likes
“Inzwischen geht es ihm besser, manche Tage seien schon fieberfrei, auch die Träume, in denen er Baron Humboldt erwürge, zerhacke, erschieße, anzünde, vergifte oder unter Steinen begrabe, würden seltener.” 3 likes
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