Publication History and Other Translations
A key text among Alexander von Humboldt’s voluminous writings on the Americas, The Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain first appeared in French between 1808 and 1811 in both a quarto and an octavo edition. The former was part of Humboldt’s Voyage aux régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent (1805–1839). In addition, Humboldt published a freestanding, significantly revised and enlarged second edition (1825–1827), on which the Alexander von Humboldt in English Project’s translation is based.
The first English translation of Humboldt’s text followed hard on the heels of its first French printing. John Black’s Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain appeared in London in 1811; its last of several reprints dates from 1966. Humboldt’s revised second edition, however, has never before been translated into English or, for that matter, into Spanish. Vicente González Arnao initially translated Humboldt’s earlier text as Ensayo político sobre la Nueva España (Paris, 1822), and his translation would become the basis for the annotated Mexican edition by Vito Alessio Robles (1941) which has is widely regarded as the standard edition in Spanish.