Measuring the World

by Daniel Kehlmann

Modern and Contemporary Fiction Historical fiction eBooks of the Month Book Club Recommendations Literary Fiction

LoveReading Expert Review of Measuring the World

The fascinating true story of two German scientists – Alexander von Humboldt and Carl Friedrich Grauss - and their quest to discover facts about the world that we take for granted today. The two eccentrics are completely different characters from completely different backgrounds with completely different working styles – but they are brought together by their common yearning for truth and knowledge. Grauss, the great mathematician, born in poverty, is reluctant to get out of bed, let alone leave home (despite the company of his own family who he despises). The aristocratic von Humboldt, the naturalist and explorer, is an emotional loner who travels the world with relentless energy and missionary zeal. Yet this book brings them together forever. If you enjoyed A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, you will enjoy completing your learning curve by reading this book.

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Measuring the World Synopsis

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, travels down the Orinoco, 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 characterisation. 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.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781847241146
Publication date: 4th October 2007
Author: Daniel Kehlmann
Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 272 pages
Primary Genre Modern and Contemporary Fiction
Other Genres:
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Daniel Kehlmann Press Reviews

'Measuring the World  has proved nothing less than a literary sensation... the novel has sold more than 600,000 copies in Germany, knocking J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown off the bestseller lists... it is the most successful German novel since Patrick Süskind’s Perfume ... 31-year old Daniel Kehlmann is a literary wunderkind already being compared to Nabokov and Proust.' Guardian

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781742015927
Publication date: 01/09/2008
Format: Audio disc

ISBN: 9781847241146
Publication date: 04/10/2007
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781847240453
Publication date: 05/04/2007
Format: Hardback

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About Daniel Kehlmann

Daniel Kehlmann was born in Munich in 1975 and moved to Vienna in 1981, where he studied literature and philosophy at university before going on to complete his doctorate - a thesis on the sublime in the works of Immanuel Kant.

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