Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent
One of the greatest nineteenth-century scientist-explorers, Alexander von Humboldt traversed the tropical Spanish Americas between 1799 and 1804. By the time of his death in 1859, he had won international fame for his scientific discoveries, his observations of Native American peoples and his detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna of the 'new continent'. The first to draw and speculate on Aztec art, to observe reverse polarity in magnetism and to discover why America is called America, his writings profoundly influenced the course of Victorian culture, causing Darwin to reflect: 'He alone gives any notion of the feelings which are raised in the mind on first entering the Tropics'.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - ChrisConway - LibraryThing
A fascinating journey to the new world, with abundant descriptions and rich anecdotes. For example: "Francisco Lozano, a labourer who lived in this village, presented a curious physiological ... Read full review
Forget Nostradamus! How could von Humboldt have understood so much about our world?
After reading Andrea Wulf's Invention of Nature, an exceptional biography of Humboldt-- and my now favorite book of all time-- I decided it was necessary to read von Humboldt in his own words. Darwin and so many others devoured Cosmos and Humboldt's Personal Narratives. I can see why. It is scarcely believable that this was written from notes taken in the late 1700s - early 1800s.
Humboldt was passionate about every journey-- and dare I say every step -- he took in discovering what he could about the planet upon which he lived and the wider universe that houses that planet. He wanted to measure, observe, and deeply understand exactly in what ways was Earth dynamic. Did the crust move? What was the purpose of earthquakes? What did the hight of mountains have to do with anything? How were rocks, plants, and other material disbursed on our planet? Why were they disbursed in such a manner? His questions were unending. The answers at which he arrived are simply mind-blowing.
It was clear from his frantic writing, which left now question that he was absolutely consumed with the beauty around us, that he was compelled to make his reader fall in love with the strange and lesser known phenomena of our home planet. He took the reader along with him on each journey he took, be it on terrain or in his own mind, and gave them a tour of Earth that hadn't even been imaginable in his day.
I got this book for free on Kindle. I would have much preferred to listen to an audio version while I walked about and took in all the beauty of my planet. However, even in Kindle version (my least favorite way to read a book), I could not help but connect to his passion and be transported to all the places he wrote about in page after page.
A CHRONOLOGY FROM 1769 TO 1859