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Measuring the World: A Novel | [Daniel Kehlmann]

Measuring the World: A Novel

Toward the end of the 18th century, two young Germans set out to measure the world. One of them, the Prussian aristocrat Alexander von Humboldt, negotiates savannas and jungle, travels down the Orinoco River, tastes poisons, climbs the highest mountain known to man, counts head lice, and explores every hole in the ground. The other, the barely socialized mathematician and astronomer Carl Friedrich Gauss, does not even need to leave his home in Göttingen to prove that space is curved.
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Publisher's Summary

The young Austrian writer Daniel Kehlmann conjures a brilliant and gently comic novel from the lives of two geniuses of the Enlightenment.

Toward the end of the 18th century, two young Germans set out to measure the world. One of them, the Prussian aristocrat Alexander von Humboldt, negotiates savannas and jungle, travels down the Orinoco River, tastes poisons, climbs the highest mountain known to man, counts head lice, and explores every hole in the ground. The other, the barely socialized mathematician and astronomer Carl Friedrich Gauss, does not even need to leave his home in Göttingen to prove that space is curved. He can run prime numbers in his head. He cannot imagine a life without women, yet he jumps out of bed on his wedding night to jot down a mathematical formula.

Von Humboldt is known to history as the Second Columbus. Gauss is recognized as the greatest mathematical brain since Newton. Terrifyingly famous and more than eccentric in their old age, the two meet in Berlin in 1828. Gauss had hardly climbed out of his carriage before both men were embroiled in the political turmoil sweeping through Germany after Napoleon's fall.

Already a huge best seller in Germany, Measuring the World marks the debut of a glorious new talent on the international scene.

©2006 Daniel Kehlmann; (P)2006 Phoenix Audio

What the Critics Say

"Brilliant." (Kirkus)
"Measuring the World has proved to be nothing less than a literary sensation." (The Guardian)
"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.3 (42 )
5 star
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3.3 (17 )
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Story
3.6 (18 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Henrik Herndon, VA, United States 04-24-07
    Henrik Herndon, VA, United States 04-24-07 Member Since 2005

    I'm an audiobook nerd living in Copenhagen, Denmark. At the time of writing, I'm approaching 400 audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Extremely disappointing - please avoid"

    I was hugely disappointed with this book - as it had been given fantastic reviews (especially in Europe where I live).

    There is no clear point to the story, there are no climaxes, it ends very very strangely - and the narrator keeps a monotone voice throughout.

    I'm baffled - and I just don't get the point what the author is trying to tell....

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dirk Willits, CA, United States 11-18-10
    Dirk Willits, CA, United States 11-18-10 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    132
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    "Love it"

    I find the story gripping and entertaining. Not being Gauss, I didn't count the large number of times I laughed aloud while listening to it. The narrator isn't my favorite narrator, but he does a good job. There are problems with the translation that bug me, but I ignored them and was thoroughly entertained and even somewhat educated by this novel. I rarely write reviews, but upon finding two reviews that trashed it, I thought it my duty to toss in my 2 cents.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    katrina NEWBURGH, NY, United States 03-24-14
    katrina NEWBURGH, NY, United States 03-24-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting but confusing"

    This is a fascinating story but the fact that it's translated I think led to some confusing passages. The narrator also didn't delineate the characters well, which sometimes made it harder to follow who was speaking and what was going on.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James S. Cox 09-02-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "I agree with Henrik."

    He said it all. Do not waste your time.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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