cover of book

Political Essay on the Island of Cuba: A Critical Edition
by Alexander von Humboldt
edited by Vera M. Kutzinski and Ottmar Ette
University of Chicago Press, 2011
eISBN: 978-0-226-46568-5 | Cloth: 978-0-226-46567-8
Library of Congress Classification F1763.H913 2011
Dewey Decimal Classification 972.9105


The research Alexander von Humboldt amassed during his five-year trek through the Americas in the early nineteenth-century proved foundational to the fields of botany, geography, and geology. But his visit to Cuba during this time yielded observations that extended far beyond the natural world. Political Essay on the Island of Cuba is a physical and cultural study of the island nation. In it, Humboldt denounces colonial slavery on both moral and economic grounds and stresses the vital importance of improving intercultural relations throughout the Americas.

Humboldt’s most controversial book, Political Essay on the Island of Cuba was banned, censored, and willfully mistranslated to suppress Humboldt’s strong antislavery sentiments. It reemerges here, newly translated from the original two volume French edition, to introduce a new generation of readers to Humboldt’s astonishing multiplicity of scientific and philosophical perspectives. In their critical introduction, Vera Kutzinski and Ottmar Ette emphasize Humboldt’s rare ability to combine scientific rigor with a cosmopolitan consciousness and a deeply felt philosophical humanism. The result is a work on Cuba of historical import that will attract historians of science as well as cultural historians, political scientists, and literary scholars.

See other books on: Critical Edition | Cuba | Island | Kutzinski, Vera M. | von Humboldt, Alexander
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