Tableaux de la nature
Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), 'the greatest scientific traveller who ever lived' according to Darwin, made groundbreaking contributions to the fields of geography, oceanography, climatology and ecology. In 1804, he returned from a five-year exploration of Latin America with an incredible wealth of specimens and data which provided the foundations for his theories on the natural order. He expounds them in this book, which was printed in German in 1808 before being translated by the geographer Jean-Baptiste Benoît Eyriès (1767-1846) and published in French in 1828. Humboldt does more than provide descriptions of the great features and phenomena of the Earth, ranging from the geological character of immense plains and steppes to the structure and action of volcanoes. He combines a rigorous scientific approach with his emotional and aesthetic responses to the natural world, thereby constructing a true 'philosophy of nature'.