Rebecca's Reviews > Measuring The World

Measuring The World by Daniel Kehlmann
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really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, science-tech, lit-in-translation

“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 who goes on journeys of discovery, and one who stays at home looking at what’s right under his nose. (Gauss envisions a scientist as “A man alone at his desk. A sheet of paper in front of him, at most a telescope as well, and a clear sky outside the window.”) I especially loved Gauss’s hot-air balloon ride and Humboldt’s attempt to summit a mountain. The lack of speech marks somehow adds to the dry wit.
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Reading Progress

February 9, 2013 – Shelved
May 5, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
May 5, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
May 5, 2016 – Shelved as: science-tech
May 5, 2016 – Shelved as: lit-in-translation
July 6, 2016 – Started Reading
July 18, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Mansuriah (new)

Mansuriah Hassan Nice review, Rebecca


Radiantflux I just read this too and didn't enjoy it as much, but perhaps because my bad German limited my enjoyment a bit.


Rebecca I read it in English translation, of course. It didn't at all read like a translation -- Carol Brown Janeway's work is excellent.


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