Alexander von Humboldt became a wholly new kind of nineteenth-century hero - the scientist-explorer - and in Personal Narrative he invented a new literary genre, the travelogue. Between 1799 and 1804 he explored the tropical Spanish Americas, by his death in 1859 he had won international fame. He was the first European to discuss, draw and speculate on Aztec art, the first to observe reverse polarity in magnetism, the first to propagate the notion of seismic waves, the first to discover why America is called America. A true Romantic, an admirer of Rousseau and close friend of Goethe, Humboldt was a passionate observer, never a colonial despoiler, and his writings made a profound impact upon the course of Victorian science. This volume contains a fascinating selection from Humboldt's original 1,997 pages of Personal Narrative, in the first English translation to appear since 1851.