THE ROAD TO LAGOA SANTA by Henrik Stangerup


Email this review


Peter Wilhelm Lund was considered one of 19th-century Europe's most promising natural scientists when he went off to do research in the Brazilian jungles in 1833; there he made a discovery in a cave--bones--which to him provided an essential clue to the then-developing theory of natural development; he sent back some of these bones to his native Copenhagen; and then, mysteriously, he stopped, fell silent, into a kind of trance of doubt. Rich historical/scientific material? Perhaps. But Stangerup (The Man Who Wanted To Be Guilty) has fictionalized and hypothesized Lund's life first in Europe, then Brazil, in an annoyingly linear, summary style. (""Late one afternoon as he walks along Vesterboro on his way to Bakkehuset, he sees the Word of God blazoned in the sky. He kneels down, trembling in gratitude. At once he leaps up again, hoping no one has seen him kneeling in the mud. God has shown him the way. He must go to Brazil. . . . "") And the result is an uninvolving, dutiful reconstruction--of broader interest only in the richer, surrounding textures of the intellectual milieu (Baron von Humboldt, the Kierkegaard family, Cuvier, Darwin) inhabited, then abandoned, by Lund.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1983
Publisher: Marion Boyars (P.O. Box 223, New York, NY 10013)