Measuring the World
By Daniel Kehlmann
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375424465, 272pp.)
Publication Date: November 7, 2006
List Price: $23.00*
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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 eighteenth century, two young Germans set out to measure the world. One of them, the Prussian aristocrat Alexander von Hum-boldt, negotiates savanna and jungle, travels down the Orinoco, 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 has hardly climbed out of his carriage before both men are 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.
Daniel Kehlmann was born in 1975 in Munich, the son of a director and an actress. He attended a Jesuit college in Vienna, traveled widely, and has won several awards for previous novels and short stories, most recently the 2005 Candide Award. His works have been translated into more than twenty languages, and Measuring the World became an instant best seller in several European countries. Kehlmann is spending the fall of 2006 as writer-in-residence at New York University’s Deutsches Haus. He lives in Vienna.