Isle de Cube. Antilles en général

On 37 pages and attached notes, Alexander von Humboldt recorded his observations about slavery in Cuba and the Caribbean and outlined analyses on the economy, population, society, and politics of the region. The journal fragment dates from his second stay in Cuba in 1804. It marks the beginning of Humboldt’s intensive examination of slavery; a question for humanity that would occupy him until the end of his life. The Cuban journal is 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 in 2005. The text dates from the second visit to the Island (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 is fascinating because of its radically open structure; it gives us an idea of the writing model and – perhaps even more – the intellectual framing of the cultural researcher and naturalist from Prussia. The political and social complexity of the Caribbean island-world is captured relationally and multi-logically in his textual miniatures.


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.