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Political Essay on the Island of Cuba (The University of Chicago Press 2011)

Political Essay on the Island of Cuba – Essai politique sur l´île de Cuba

In May 2011, the Chicago University Press published the first volume of a new series of critical Humboldt editions:

Political Essay on the Island of Cuba, Kutzinski, Ette
Political Essay on the Island of Cuba, Kutzinski, Ette; The University of Chicago Press

Humboldt, Alexander von: Political Essay on the Island of Cuba. A Critical Edition. Edited with an Introduction by Vera M. Kutzinski and Ottmar Ette. Translated by J. Bradford Anderson, Vera M. Kutzinski, and Anja Becker. With Annotations by Tobias Kraft, Anja Becker, and Giorleny D. Altamirano Rayo. Chicago – London: The University of Chicago Press 2011 [519 p.]

This new edition is a key contribution not only to Cuban and Carribean studies or the history of science, but also to slavery and postcolonial studies:

Humboldt’s most controversial book, the 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. >> Read more

This new translation of Humboldt’s physical and cultural study of Cuba is part of the larger project HiE – Alexander von Humboldt in English, which is scheduled to publish new editions of the Vues des Cordillères et monumens des peuples indigènes de l’Amérique as well as of Humboldt’s pivotal study on New Spain, the Essai politique sur le royaume de la Nouvelle-Espagne.

Concerning the new Cuba edition, Roberto González Echevarría (Yale University) stated:

Vera Kutzinski and Ottmar Ette’s critical edition of the Political Essay on the Island of Cuba is a major contribution to the many disciplines through which von Humboldt moved—anthropology, geography, history, mineralogy, political science, meteorology, etc.—and evidence that he was a true savant with the eye of a scientist and the soul of an artist. As a book on Cuba, the Political Essay is as important as those by Fernando Ortiz, Manuel Moreno Fraginals, Alejo Carpentier, and José Lezama Lima. I wish there were as good an edition of it in Spanish. >> Read more review quotes

More information here:


Katharina Einert

Katharina Einert - Studium der Romanistik und Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft an der Universität Potsdam. Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft am Lehrstuhl für französisch- und spanischsprachige Literatur (Prof. Dr. Ottmar Ette), Institut für Romanistik, Universität Potsdam. Seit 2011 Promotion unter Betreuung von Prof. Dr. Gesine Müller, Romanisches Seminar, Universität zu Köln.

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