Measuring the World Hardcover – 5 April 2007
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 Suskind's Perfume... 31-year-old Daniel Kehlmann is a literary wunderkind already being compared to Nabokov and Proust'
The novel belies the German reputation for humourlessness and the author very much plays it for laughs without demeaning his protagonists. What he conveys so well is the presence of two extraordinary personalities...It is a delightful read
'Kehlmann brings to life the intellectual world both men inhabit with a dazzling combination of wry humour and humane observation... Kehlmann doesn't just illuminate the lives of these two men, he captures the wondrous nature of the universe through the prism of uncompromising intellectual ideas'
'A historical novel that handles facts with the delight of a wide-eyed child handling exaggerated fictions. With a boundless sense of fun and an impressive command of his subject, he explores scientific and metaphorical ideas of opposites, parallels and distances, and wonders - against the backdrop of the universe - what their ultimate significance could be .... A deceptively clever novel - understated and boldly ambitious in its scope'
Daniel Kehlmann's Measuring the World announces the arrival of a new generation...Kehlmann is a master of irony ... already a figure of European stature...(he) has it in him to be the great German novelist that the world had given up waiting for
About the Author
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- Publisher : Quercus (5 April 2007)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1847240453
- ISBN-13 : 978-1847240453
- Item Weight : 458 g
- Dimensions : 14.4 x 22.3 x 3.2 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #439,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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It is a book that can be read multiple times. The references to people, places, and inventions is brilliantly done, and it opens the hitherto closed doors into the scientific past of Germany in particular and Europe in general.
Definitely worth a read.
Top reviews from other countries
At first I didn’t take to it. Though plainly witty and interesting, it was flowing past me, just one thing after another. But then I tried reading it aloud and became much more involved with the characters and entertained by the wry, throwaway humour. So all in all, great fun and fascinating, lots to enjoy, and with something to say about the human condition.
Three minor quibbles. The lack of speech quotation marks. The ‘he’s and ‘him’s I had to pause to attribute. And the first chapter, which would have worked much better coming in its chronological order in the narrative. My advice is start with chapter 2 and read chapter 1 after the one called ‘The Capital’.
'Measuring the world' captures this era in a beautiful manner, by contrasting two of its giants: the explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769 - 1859) and the mathematician Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855). In many ways, two people couldn't be further apart: Gauss was a child prodigy of humble birth (his father wanted him to become a mason as he himself was), Humboldt the younger of two sons in a prominent Pomeranian family (his father was a major in the Prussian army). Gauss was by all accounts a difficult man to live with: a perfectionist, having difficulties establishing relations with other people (including his own children), impatient and restless. By contrast, Humboldt was ever sociable and friendly, the epitome of the gentleman-explorer, used to moving in the highest circles. Humboldt traversed the globe, Gauss explored the world (the universe rather) sitting behind his desk...
And yet, in a bizarre way, as Kehlmann demonstrates in this splendid book, both men (or rather: his fictionalized versions of them) are as different sides of the same coin, and are ultimately 'mere men', as we all are. Ambitious and confident as they may be when young and in the prime of their lives, and there hardly seemed to be limits to what they could do and achieve, as they grow older (and more and more lonely) they are confronted with the same ruminations, doubts and regrets we probably all are: did I make a difference? Have I done right by my children? Should I have been more caring towards my wife?
You've probably guessed by now that I enjoyed this book a lot. It's insightful, full of (dry) humour and irony, and utterly charming. Splendid!
This book also deals with those very exciting times wheh a man of means could travel the world and discover for the Europeans those corners of Earth that were still hidden. That was Humboldt's case. Appart from that, he was gifted with an iron determination and faith in himself.
On the other hand, stands a Genious, Gauss, prince of Matemathicians, who turned Maths upside down when hardly twenty, and went on working on other projects: probability, magnetism, languaje, etc.
The author makes their scientific enterprises the landscape for their developement as persons, a setting in which we can understand them better as men, with their whims, wishes, prejudices, miseries, intuition, inspiration, genius
Their society was very different from ours: stamental, rigid, surveiled... many things we take for granted, like freedom of speech, independent pursuits, free research were not casual, were sometimes only tolerated.
This book is a good primer to historical novels, and a good kit-kat for those scientists and interested in science.