Measuring the World will be a great choice if you are interested in science in general and especially in fields such as mathematics, astronomy and biology. It tells the story of two different scientists who are after measuring the world. It is also about the world and people through these two geniuses’ eyes. Daniel Kehlmann is an exciting author. Although it took me a while to get used to his style, I read the story of scientists Humboldt and Gauss with interest.
In Measuring the World, we read the stories of the naturalist, geographer and explorer Alexander von Humboldt and Carl Friedrich Gauss, a mathematical genius since childhood. The author has written about the experiences of these two characters in successive episodes. So, it is effortless to follow what both of them do simultaneously and not to forget what happened.
The lives of these two scientists are so different that it is fun to read what they did for the sake of science and about their exciting personalities. Still, I couldn’t help thinking that the author might add a little more humour to the events and that the book might be a little more engaging. If you are passionate about science, you’ll love this book. Enjoy!
Measuring the World
Measuring the World recreates the parallel but contrasting lives of two geniuses of the German Enlightenment. The naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt and the mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss. Towards the end of the 18th century, these two brilliant young Germans set out to measure the world.
Humboldt, a Prussian aristocrat schooled for greatness, negotiates savannah and jungle. Climbs the highest mountain then known to man, counts head lice on the heads of the natives. And explores every hole in the ground.
Gauss, a man born in poverty who will be recognised as the greatest mathematician since Newton. Does not even need to leave his home in Göttingen to know that space is curved. He can run prime numbers in his head, cannot imagine a life without women. And yet jumps out of bed on his wedding night to jot down a mathematical formula.
Measuring the World is a novel of rare charm and readability, distinguished by its sly humour and unforgettable characterization. It brings the two eccentric geniuses to life, their longings and their weaknesses. Their balancing act between loneliness and love, absurdity and greatness, failure and success.
Daniel Kehlmann is a German-language novelist and playwright of both Austrian and German nationality. His novel Die Vermessung der Welt is the best selling book in the German language since Patrick Süskind’s Perfume was released in 1985.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: