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  • Cited by 3
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Online publication date: October 2010
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • First published in: 1848
  • Online ISBN: 9780511708992
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511708992
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Book description

Polymath Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), a self-described 'scientific traveller', was one of the most respected scientists of his time. Humboldt's wanderlust led him across Europe and to South America, Mexico, the U.S. and Russia, and his voyages and observations resulted in the discovery of many species previously unknown to Europeans. Originating as lectures delivered in Berlin and Paris (1827–1828), his two-volume Cosmos: Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe (1845–1860) represented the culmination of his lifelong interest in understanding the physical world. As Humboldt writes, 'I ever desired to discern physical phenomena in their widest mutual connection, and to comprehend Nature as a whole, animated and moved by inward forces'. Volume 2 (1848) reviews poetic descriptions of nature as well as landscape painting from antiquity through to modernity, before using the same time-span to examine a 'History of the Physical Contemplation of the Universe'.

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