Isle de Cube. Antilles en général

On 37 pages and attached notes, Alexander von Humboldt wrote down insights into slavery and outlined analyses on the economy, population, society, and politics. The journal fragment comes from his second stay in Cuba in 1804. It marks the beginning of Humboldt’s intensive examination of slavery, a human question that occupied him until the end of his life. These notes are presented here for the first time in a scholarly edition.

Edited by Ulrike Leitner, Piotr Tylus and Michael Zeuske

To the edited text


Ulrike Leitner


The manuscript "Isle de Cube, Antilles en général" closes another gap in the Humboldt research after the missing piece from Mexico City to Veracruz was published a few years ago. The text is from the second visit to Cuba (March 19–April 29, 1804) before Humboldt and Bonpland made a last stopover in the USA on their way back to Europe.


Ottmar Ette

Island Text And Archipelago Writing

"Isle de Cube, Antilles en général" can be regarded as the title for an entire text archipelago. Humboldt’s manuscript fascinates us with its radically open structure; it gives us an idea of the writing model and – perhaps even more – the thought model of the cultural researcher and naturalist. His short texts capture the political and social complexity of the Caribbean archipelago relationally and polylogically.


Pjotr Tylus

Remarques Linguistiques

Alexander von Humboldt’s French contains features of a classic style that has been in use since the 17th century. This edition shows the multi-layered character of Humboldt’s use of language: his French is linguistically complex but remains precise and flexible. As a genuine expression of Humboldt’s thinking, it is a unique testimony of his time.


Michael Zeuske

Alexander von Humboldt, Slavery In America, And His "Lost Diary" (Havana 1804)

The publication of the Cuba journal has given the Humboldt community an important object of study. The main subject of "Isle de Cube. Antilles en général" – written in real time – is the sugar and slave economy of Cuba and the extreme living conditions of the enslaved population there and in the colonies of other European powers in the Caribbean.