A Geography of Hard Times: Narratives About Travel to South by Angela Perez-Mejia, Dick Cluster

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By Angela Perez-Mejia, Dick Cluster

Unravels the wealthy complexities of the colonial shuttle event.

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Extra resources for A Geography of Hard Times: Narratives About Travel to South America, 1780-1849

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The traveler cannot do so without stopping for a long time in the same place. (Diario de observaciones, libro I: 634) Thus, travel could no longer be justified as pursuit of knowledge. What had scientific validity, now, was remaining in the same spot. Mutis’s text “La vigilia y el sueño de las plantas” dates from this same year. His biographer regards it as a part of the Diario de observaciones and presents it this way: The study we now present . . if it might have been of some novelty at the end of the eighteenth century because it partially imitated the clock of the Flora conceived by Linnaeus in Upsala, today is completely lacking in scientific importance.

Lettres Américaines, 135) Humboldt’s voyage had transformed his native Europe, while the tropics had gotten under his skin. He apparently never managed to carry out the proposed re-encounter with himself. Contact with American reality caused a division within the scientist. Though he managed to re-create America on a textual level in his travel writing, he remained exiled in the realm of nostalgia for the rest of his days. Humboldt dreamed of rejoining his American friends for good. He spent a great deal of his life trying to return to Mexico as director of a school for naturalists.

It is not surprising that Bolívar called him “the new discoverer of America” and declared that “[h]e has done more for America than all the conquistadors together” (Rippy, 79). In his famous letter of November 10, 1821, written while he was president of the newly declared country of Gran Colombia, Bolívar wrote to Humboldt: HUMBOLDT 41 In America, Baron Humboldt shall be forever present in the hearts of those who know how to value a great man, one who with his eyes has lifted her from ignorance and with his pen has painted her as beautifully as her Nature deserves.

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