After having travelled South America for five year, Humboldt and Bonpland return to Europe and eventhough Humboldt is desperate to get back into the field, he is stuck in his confined life and he has to quench his wanderlust. Caused by the East India Company, who didn´t allow Humboldt to travel to the Himalaya. (He used the 20 years being stuck in Europe to write his books).
I honestly didn´t know that the East India Company had such a huge influence, being able to decide who was allowed to get into a country and who wasn´t. And just imagine Humboldt climbing the Mount Everest. He would have done it, without a doubt.
I´m deeply impressed by Humboldts work. It seems like every significant work of science is based on an idea Humboldt had before them. You´ve got to admire his skills, his knowledge and his determination to science. On the other side he seems to be a deeply troubled character, incapable to form a serious and lasting relationship with other people. Even his brother Wilhelm is struggling with his character.
There were so many interesting tid-bits in this part of the book. I didn´t know anything about Simon Bolivar´s revolution in South America before reading this book, so I thoroughly enjoyed that chapter. And the fact that Humboldt did get a kind of salary from Prussia without doing anything for this money and the fact that Napoleon didn´t like Humboldt, makes you consider what kind of and agenda some people had regarding Humboldt or what kind of feelings Humboldt invoked in other people (and what this does say about these people, in this case Napoleon).
And then there is Bonpland. I sincerely hope that Wulf will follow his fate, because I kind of like him (I have a soft spot for scatterbrained scientist). I hope he will pull through whatever he has to suffer from.