Measuring the World: Book summary and reviews of Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann

Measuring the World

by Daniel Kehlmann

Measuring the World
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2007
    272 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Measuring the World marks the debut of a glorious new talent on the international scene. Young Austrian writer Daniel Kehlmann’s brilliant comic novel revolves around the meeting of two colossal geniuses of the Enlightenment.

Late in the eighteenth century, two young Germans set out to measure the world. One of them, the aristocratic naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, negotiates jungles, voyages down the Orinoco River, tastes poisons, climbs the highest mountain known to man, counts head lice, and explores and measures every cave and hill he comes across. The other, the reclusive and barely socialized mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, can prove that space is curved without leaving his home. Terrifyingly famous and wildly eccentric, these two polar opposites finally meet in Berlin in 1828, and are immediately embroiled in the turmoil of the post-Napolean world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The narrative is notable for its brisk pacing, lively prose and wry humor ... which keenly complements Kehlmann's intelligent, if not especially deep, treatment of science, mathematics and reason at the end of the Enlightenment." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. The uncomfortable humor of being, in Gauss' case, too brilliant ... suffuses Kehlmann's heady historical novel, which may especially delight science-fiction connoisseurs." - Booklist

"Steeped in German classicism and set against the topsy-turvy politics of the Napoleonic wars, this is a wonderfully entertaining depiction of an era, but, more importantly, a warm, playful portrait of two delightfully improbable men. Brilliant." - Kirkus

"A masterfully realized, wonderfully entertaining and deeply satisfying novel. ... Addictively readable and genuinely and deeply funny." - Los Angeles Times

"Kehlmann's lightly surreal style [is] a mixture of comedy, romance and the macabre, with flashes of magical realism that read like Borges in the Black Forest." - Washington Post Book World

"Elegant and measured in design and expression. ... What distinguishes Kehlmann are quickness of mind and lightness of touch." - The New York Times Book Review

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Author Information

Daniel Kehlmann Author Biography

Photo: Michael Lionstar

Daniel Kehlmann was born in 1975, the son of the director Michael Kehlmann and actress Dagmar Mettler in Munich. In 1981 he came with his family to Vienna where he later attended the University of Vienna and studied philosophy and German. His first novel Beerholms Vorstellung was published in 1997. He held poetry lectureships in Mainz, Wiesbaden and Göttingen and has received numerous awards, including the Candide Prize, the Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Doderer Prize, the Kleist Prize 2006 and most recently the WORLD-Literature Prize 2007. Kehlmann's reviews and essays have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Der Spiegel, Guardian, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Literaturen and Volltext. His novel Me and Kaminski ...

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