The Discovery of Slowness

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Slow and deliberate from boyhood, John Franklin seemed destined to be a misfit. But he escaped from the ever-expanding world of Industry and Empire to the sea's silent landscape, where the universe seemed more manageable. At fourteen he joined the Navy, and, after the harrowing battles of Copenhagen and Trafalgar, went in search of the Northwest Passage. As he journeyed from Canada to the Arctic he replayed in a kind of slow-motion mental frieze the bloody frenzy of the battles he had so deplored. Everyone with ...
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The Discovery of Slowness

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Overview

Slow and deliberate from boyhood, John Franklin seemed destined to be a misfit. But he escaped from the ever-expanding world of Industry and Empire to the sea's silent landscape, where the universe seemed more manageable. At fourteen he joined the Navy, and, after the harrowing battles of Copenhagen and Trafalgar, went in search of the Northwest Passage. As he journeyed from Canada to the Arctic he replayed in a kind of slow-motion mental frieze the bloody frenzy of the battles he had so deplored. Everyone with whom he came into contact sensed that they were dealing with a rare man, one who as out of his time and who moved to a different, grander beat. The beat later led Franklin into the Arctic in search of a frozen dream; it was a voyage on which time stopped.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Brutal stuggleagainst Arctic ice, enveloping seas off the coast of Australia, the death ships of Napoleon's navyis etched here upon a canvas of the contemplative and methodically slow thought of John Franklin, whose brain sends no signals to speak or move until it has fully conceptualized a situation. From boyhood John's slowness has been phenomenal, allowing him to hold a rope taut for hours, his arm upright, and gather superhuman strength in the process. The sea, volatile but profoundly changeless, is his precise home; to be the captain of a ship is his goal from the time he is ten. He becomes an expert navigator and learns the function and capacity of every sail, spar and sheet. By age 14 Franklin is a midshipman, at 29 a captain at last. His progress is strewn with naval battles, exploration of unknown coasts and experiences of starvation and mutinyadventures that are conveyed with spellbinding skill. Finally his most compelling dream is realized and he leads a first and then a second expedition to the still and silent Arctic. Fame and riches follow; at age 60 he again sails to the Arctic, where he dies. This remarkable, superbly translated novel derives from the life of the real 19th century explorer John Franklin, who bestowed the name ``District of Franklin'' to the northern archipelago above Canada. (October)
Library Journal
This fictionalized biography chronicles the life of 19th-century explorer Sir John Franklin (1786-1847), credited with discovering the Northwest Passage. A slow, deliberate, and strange child, Franklin joins the Navy at 14. After many years of seafaring, he becomes governor of Van Diemen's Land, later renamed, by him, Tasmania. Despite his much-needed prison reforms and remarkable humanitarian efforts, Franklin is eventually removed from office and returns to a life of adventure on the sea. Unfortunately, the Franklin that Nadolny gives us is an admirable but oddly colorless character. Constructed on the unoriginal premise that ``slow'' people can achieve great things, this tale is an endless narrative of stilted, stifling prose. Ronald L. Coombs, SUNY Downstate Medical Ctr. Lib., Brooklyn, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140265842
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/1/1997
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 7.77 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Sten Nadolny is the author of several novels, including The Discovery of Slowness. He lives in Germany.

Ralph Freedman, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, is acclaimed for his biographies Hermann Hesse: Pilgrim of Crisis, and Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke

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