Sign up for our Email Newsletter Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
Cosmos and Colonialism: Alexander von Humboldt in Cultural Criticism

View Table of Contents

See Related
History Journals

Email Newsletters

Sign up for our email newsletters to get customized updates on new Berghahn publications.

Click here to select your preferences

Cosmos and Colonialism

Alexander von Humboldt in Cultural Criticism

Edited by Rex Clark and Oliver Lubrich

364 pages, 7 ills, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-266-5 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (April 2012)

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


[The essays] reflect the amazing breadth of interests of the German scientist, emphasizing in particular his travels in and commentary (scientific and political) on South America. The[y] cover a period of more than 200 years and have relevance not only for historians of science, but also for scholars of German and French literature, Latin American studies, travel literature, philosophy, and history.  ·  Choice

There is no doubt that these volumes combine the most comprehensive collection of texts for the colorful and shifting history of Humboldt's fame...By laboriously assembling, and in many cases translating, an impressive number of texts from remote corners of libraries and collections, Clark and Lubrich have provided a valuable service to scholars and the general public. In this process they have filled a neglected space in the literature about Humboldt. They have pointed to the issues of colonialism and integrated Latin American voices and into the dialogue about Humboldt, a dialogue that concerns primarily Latin America. the world that Humboldt treated so exhaustively in histwenty-nine volumes. “  ·  Yearbook of German-American Studies


Alexander von Humboldt explored the Spanish Empire on the verge of its collapse (1799–1804). He is the most significant German travel writer and the most important mediator between Europe and the Americas of the nineteenth century. His works integrated knowledge from two dozen domains. Today, he is at the center of debates on imperial discourse, postcolonialism, and globalization. This collection of fifty essays brings together a range of responses, many presented here for the first time in English. Authors from Schiller, Chateaubriand, Sarmiento, and Nietzsche, to Robert Musil, Kurt Tucholsky, Ernst Bloch, and Alejo Carpentier paint the historical background. Essays by contemporary travel writers and recent critics outline the current controversies on Humboldt. The source materials collected here will be indispensable to scholars of German, French, and Latin and North American literature as well as cultural and postcolonial studies, history, art history, and the history of science.

Rex Clark is a Lecturer in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. He studied at the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, researching the history of travel guides and travel discourse in the eighteenth century and focusing on Friedrich Nicolai, Georg Forster, and Alexander von Humboldt. He has published articles on digital media, postcolonial travel theory, and the reception of Alexander von Humboldt.

Oliver Lubrich is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Universität Bern in Switzerland. He is the author of Shakespeare's Self-Deconstruction (2001) and Post-Colonial Poetics (2004, 2009) and the editor of Travels in the Reich, 1933-1945 (2010). He has edited or co-edited Alexander von Humboldt's Central Asia (2009), Kosmos (2004), and the first German version of Vues des Cordillères (2004), the Chimborazo Diary (2006) as well as the ethnographic and political essays (2009, 2010).

Also edited by Rex Clark and Oliver Lubrich: Transatlantic Echoes: Alexander von Humboldt in World Literature

Subject: History (General) Cultural Studies (General) Literary Studies
Area: Latin America and the Caribbean Europe


List of Illustrations
Editorial method

Introduction: Analyzing Humboldt

Chapter 1. Letter to Christian Gottfried Körner 1797
Friedrich Schiller

Chapter 2. Thoughts on the Principal Events of the French Revolution 1817
Germaine de Staël

Chapter 3. On Monsieur de Humboldt’s Voyage 1820
François-René Chateaubriand

Chapter 4. Conversations with Goethe 1827
Johann Peter Eckermann

Chapter 5. Thoughts on Modern Literature 1840
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Chapter 6. Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism 1845
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento

Chapter 7. Aesthetics or The Science of Beauty 1847
Friedrich Theodor Vischer

Chapter 8. The Napoleon of Science 1850
Henry Theodore Tuckerman

Chapter 9. Aesthetics of the Ugly 1853
Karl Rosenkranz

Chapter 10. Eulogy 1859
Louis Agassiz

Chapter 11. Letter to Ludmilla Assing 1860
Gottfried Keller

Chapter 12. The Culture of the Renaissance in Italy 1860
Jacob Burckhardt

Chapter 13. Walking 1862
Henry David Thoreau

Chapter 14. The True Character of Humboldt 1869
Karl Heinzen

Chapter 15. The Descent of Man 1871
Charles Darwin

Chapter 16. Honoré de Balzac 1875
Henry James

Chapter 17. The Shortcomings of the Style 1877
Friedrich Nietzsche

Chapter 18. Rebellion in the Backland 1902
Euclides da Cunha

Chapter 19. Vision of Anáhuac (1519) 1915
Alfonso Reyes

Chapter 20. The Dry Putsch 1922
Kurt Tucholsky

Chapter 21. In the Steps of Humboldt 1923
José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Chapter 22. The German as a Human Symptom 1923
Robert Musil

Chapter 23. Result of Perspectives 1930
Gottfried Benn

Chapter 24. Introduction to the “Political Essay on the Island of Cuba” 1930
Fernando Ortiz

Chapter 25. Commemoration of Alexander von Humboldt 1934
Karl Blasche

Chapter 26. Cuban Counterpoint. Tobacco and Sugar 1940
Fernando Ortiz

Chapter 27. Humboldt, Political and Private 1942
Egon Erwin Kisch

Chapter 28. The Scientific Conquest 1942
Egon Erwin Kisch

Chapter 29. The Dispute of the New World 1955
Antonello Gerbi

Chapter 30. Memory of Humboldt 1958
José Lezama Lima

Chapter 31. The Principle of Hope 1959
Ernst Bloch

Chapter 32. The Invention of America 1961
Edmundo O’Gorman

Chapter 33. Preliminary Study to the “Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain” 1965
Juan A. Ortega y Medina

Chapter 34. The City of Columns 1970
Alejo Carpentier

Chapter 35. Humboldt and the Rehabilitation of a Continent 1970
Hugo Loetscher

Chapter 36. LSD: My Problem Child 1979
Albert Hofmann

Chapter 37. The Memory of Humboldt Lives in the Peoples’ Struggle 1981
Erich Honecker

Chapter 38. A Book on Nature as a Book of Nature 1981
Hans Blumenberg

Chapter 39. Message from the Horsehead 1981
Peter Schneider

Chapter 40. Blackholes of Historiography 1989
Peter Hacks

Chapter 41. No One Wanders under Palm Trees Unpunished. Goethe and Humboldt 1991
Hans Christoph Buch

Chapter 42. Alexander von Humboldt and the Reinvention of America 1992
Mary Louise Pratt

Chapter 43. 'The Second Columbus?’ 1995
Eoin Bourke

Chapter 44. The German Columbus 1997
Susanne Zantop

Chapter 45. The Graves of the Humboldts 1998
Hans Blumenberg

Chapter 46. Like Bronze Statues of Antiquity 2000
Oliver Lubrich

Chapter 47. Walking Backward to the Future 2000
Benigno Trigo

Chapter 48. Concepts of Culture on the Orinoco 2002
Rex Clark

Chapter 49. The Art of Travel 2002
Alain de Botton

Chapter 50.  Opening of the Humboldt Exhibit in Madrid 2005
Kerstin Müller

Source Bibliography

Back to Top

Library Recommendation Form

Dear Librarian,

I would like to recommend Cosmos and Colonialism Alexander von Humboldt in Cultural Criticism for the library. Please include it in your next purchasing review with my strong recommendation. The RRP is: $135.00

I recommend this title for the following reasons:

BENEFIT FOR THE LIBRARY: This book will be a valuable addition to the library's collection.

REFERENCE: I will refer to this book for my research/teaching work.

STUDENT REFERRAL: I will regularly refer my students to the book to assist their studies.

OWN AFFILIATION: I am an editor/contributor to this book or another book in the Series (where applicable) and/or on the Editorial Board of the Series, of which this volume is part.