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Extra resources for A Geography of Hard Times: Narratives About Travel to South America, 1780-1849 (Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture)
What elements of the “painting” of American nature led the new nations to see their reality represented in a fashion never before “discovered”? Why would Bolívar, an anticolonialist leader, laud Humboldt as a “discoverer” and “conquistador”? What did those eyes see, and what did that pen paint, that called forth such gratitude and “raised us from our ignorance”? 6 However, the questions raised by Humboldt’s journey do not end there. They reappear in inverted form when we think about America’s influence on the celebrated German geographer.
Taken from Villegas, Mutis y la Real Expedición Botánica del Nuevo Reyno de Granada, 1992. MUTIS 29 At the moment (eleven months after having arrived) I am lacking many things that would contribute to alleviating the discomforts suffered by one away from home, but now in some manner I have adapted, until God pleases to return me from this exile and place me in my own country, surrounded by family and friends, whom I will entertain for a long while with my abundant harvest of tasty species. (Viaje a Santa Fe de José Celestino Mutis, 1991, 212) He has made the decision to stay until he can assemble the “abundant harvest” which he will take back to his country, and he still places his role as a doctor above all of others.
Humboldt was aware of a geographic pre-text about equatorial America, and he wrote the geographic text resulting from his voyages upon this foundation. His atlas included not only maps but also illustrations and other reproductions which, in the main, were made by French engravers from the sketches in Humboldt’s travel journals. These engravings greatly influenced the development of Latin American art and become the model for a new way of representing voyages in which science and art were equally privileged.