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Titel: Manuscript transcript of a course of ...
Verlag: [Berlin], 1827
4to (258 x 204 mm) ff  paginated 1-151 [1, blank], ink on paper (Whatman Turkey Mill 1826) in a neat cursive hand, a few manuscript corrections to text, 8 pp précis index and 4 pp list of corrections loosely inserted; in very good condition, in a contemporary binding of unlabelled paper boards, oval portrait photograph of Humboldt pasted on inside front cover. £8500A rare manuscript transcript (one of three known; no autograph version survives) of Humboldt's lecture course on physical geography, the foundation for the last work published in his lifetime, Kosmos (Printing and the mind of man 320). Kosmos was the scientific best-seller of its day, with over 80,000 copies sold in Humboldt's lifetime (in addition to numerous translations, including three separate English translations). 'Humboldt's survey of contemporary knowledge of the physical world and the cosmos - the last such scientific survey undertaken by a single individual - occupied him for the last three decades of his life' (Norman catalogue). The lectures on physical geography and astronomy were given during the winter of 1827-8. For the next three decades of his life he worked on expanding this lecture text into his great Kosmos, the first volume of which appeared in 1845 and the last in 1862, published after his death in 1859. 'In the last decades of his life Humboldt . worked primarily on Kosmos, the plan for which dated from 1827-1828, when Humboldt had lectured on physical geography in Berlin. The first volume appeared only in 1845, and with the second (1847) marked a genuine popular triumph for the aged author. He wrote in a letter to Bessel, dated 14 July 1833: "It is the work of my life; it should reflect what I have projected as my conception and vision of explored and unexplored relationships of phenomena, out of both my own experience and painstaking inquiry into reading in many languages".'The Kosmos is a popular scientific book in the best sense of that term. The entire material world from the galaxies to the geography of the various mosses, the history of physical cosmography, the needed stimulation for nature study - he sought to present all in vivid, "pleasing" language. Volumes III through V, containing his special research findings and added material, were not equally successful: Humboldt died before completing the fifth volume. The index was prepared according to his specifications and he credited each contemporary to whom he felt indebted. The work cites over 9,000 sources and is thus an important reference for the history of science' (DSB).Humboldt began a course of 61 lectures at the Berlin University, which ran from November 3 1827 to April 26 1828. Because of their overwhelming success, he simultaneously gave an abbreviated series, known as the Kosmos lectures, for a more general audience in the largest hall in Berlin, in the Singakademie, and attracted some 1000 people per lecture. These lectures ran from December 6 1827 to April 27 1828 (i.e. more or less concurrently with the Berlin University lectures). Humboldt's publisher Friedrich Cotta proposed that the lectures be transcribed and published, but Humboldt would not agree to this, as he wanted to expand them into what became Kosmos. However, Cotta went ahead and advertised a two-volume work titled Vorlesungen über physicalische Geographie nebst Prolegomenen über die Stellung der Gestirne, but the publication, which would have had essentially the same contents as the present manuscript, was not realised.There are two other transcripts of these lectures known: a copy presented to the King, now in the Staatsbibliothek Berlin (Ms. Germ. 4o 2124); it was published in 2004, with an introduction by Martin Pape (Alexander von Humboldt. Die Kosmos-Vorträge 1827/1828 in der Berliner Singakademie), and one in a private collection.See Norman 1112; Parkinson p 325; PMM 320. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 3675
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