Humboldt, Alexander von: Views of the Cordilleras and Monuments of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. A Critical Edition. Edited with an Introduction by Vera M. Kutzinski and Ottmar Ette. Translated by J. Ryan Poynter. With Annotations by Giorleny D. Altamirano Rayo and Tobias Kraft. Chicago – London: The University of Chicago Press 2012 [618 + xxxvii p.]
In 2012, the Chicago University Press published the second volume of the HiE – Alexander von Humboldt in English series. The new critical edition is available online and in the bookstores since January 2013.
This new edition is a key contribution not only to Mesoamerican and Cultural Studies or to the history of science, but also to indigenous and postcolonial studies:
Views of the Cordilleras and Monuments of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas firmly established Alexander von Humboldt as the founder of Mesoamerican studies. In Views of the Cordilleras—first published in French between 1810 and 1813—von Humboldt weaves together magnificently engraved drawings and detailed texts to achieve multifaceted views of cultures and landscapes across the Americas. In doing so, he offers an alternative perspective on the New World, combating presumptions of its belatedness and inferiority by arguing that the “old” and the “new” world are of the same geological age. >> Read more
This new translation is the second volume in the HiE – Alexander von Humboldt in English series. Volume 1, the Political Essay on the Island of Cuba, was published in 2011 and received widespread recognition (see i.e. here and here).
Concerning the new critical edition, Nigel Leask (University of Glasgow) stated:
Appearing just over two hundred years after the original publication of Vues des Cordilleres in 1810, this magnificent new edition is the first ever complete English translation of the original French text, integrating all sixty-nine plates of the ‘picturesque atlas’ with von Humboldt’s original commentary. J. Ryan Poynter’s cautiously modernized translation preserves the idiosyncrasies of von Humboldt’s distinctive French style, alert to its unique blending of aesthetic and scientific perceptions of the ‘New World.’ […] Perhaps most strikingly for the modern reader, his radical understanding of indigenous America as a world civilization lives and breathes again in our postcolonial era. >> Read more review quotes