The Discovery of Slowness

Overview

"Absolutely stunning."?Times Literary Supplement

"This remarkable, superbly translated novel derives from the life of the real 19th century explorer John Franklin?[whose] adventures are conveyed with spellbinding skill."?Publishers Weekly

The Discovery of Slowness?a huge commercial and critical success across Europe, where it is considered the popular author's masterpiece?recounts the life of the ...

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The Discovery of Slowness

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Overview

"Absolutely stunning."—Times Literary Supplement

"This remarkable, superbly translated novel derives from the life of the real 19th century explorer John Franklin…[whose] adventures are conveyed with spellbinding skill."—Publishers Weekly

The Discovery of Slowness—a huge commercial and critical success across Europe, where it is considered the popular author's masterpiece—recounts the life of the nineteenth-century British explorer Sir John Franklin (1786-1847).

Through the author's acute reading of history and his marvelous storytelling prowess, the reader follows John Franklin's development from awkward schoolboy and ridiculed teenager to expedition leader, governor of Tasmania, and icon of adventure. Slow and deliberate from boyhood, Franklin appeared 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 age fourteen he joined the navy. After surviving the harrowing battles of Copenhagen and Trafalgar, he embarked on several voyages of discovery into the Canadian North, and served as governor of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). Everyone with whom he came into contact sensed that Franklin was a rare man, one who was “out of his time” and who moved to a different, grander beat. That beat eventually led Franklin to sail once more—on his final, fateful voyage—into the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage.

The Discovery of Slowness is a riveting account of a remarkable and varied life. And it is also a profound and thought-provoking meditation on time. The result is an unforgettable and deeply moving reading experience that justifies the novel's reputation as one of the classics of contemporary world literature.

***

"Nadolny evinces remarkable empathy with his unlikely Odysseus and Ralph Freedman's translation captures the crystalline freshness of the author's imagery."—Washington Post Book World

"The Discovery of Slowness is a masterpiece of characterization, a portrait of inwardness in the most outward-thrusting of lives."—The New Republic

"Fluid and suspenseful, a thought-provoking reminder of contemporary society's tendency to speed through everyday life."—The Providence Journal-Bulletin

"Amazing…His book is a historical painting, a seafarer's novel, a love story, an outcast's story all in one. This variety appears very harmonious, just as it incidentally, almost secretly, reflects on our right to discover the world at our own, personal pace."—Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung

"Sir John Franklin is the embodied contrast to the frenetic agitation of the modern world. The discovery of slowness is the slowness of discovery."—New York Review of Books

"Nadolny's vision is conveyed with restraint and charm…He has written a Utopia of character."—New York Times Book Review

"Its appeal lies in its observation of the texture of life, seen by a character who has to work everything out from first principles. It needs to be read slowly, to be absorbed as much as understood."—Scotland On Sunday

"This is more than an adventure; it's a meditation on time and perception…Not to be rushed, or forgotten."—The Herald

"Nadolny brilliantly sets the narrative pace to the rhythms of the frozen landscape, and to the 'slowness which is bred by hunger.'"—Robert MacFarlane

"This is both a wonderful historical novel and a spell-binding individual portrait…This is a marvellous translation of a masterly work."—The Observer

Sten Nadolny (b. 1942) was an historian and filmmaker, before writing four novels and two collections of essays. He lives in Berlin and has been awarded four prizes: Ingeborg Bachmann (1981), Hans-Fallada (1985), Premio Vallombrosa (1986), Ernst Hoferichter (1995). The Discovery of Slowness (1983) has been translated into all major languages.

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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: 9781589880245
  • Publisher: Dry, Paul Books, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2005
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 325
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Sten Nadolny has been an historian and filmmaker in addition to having written four novels and two collections of essays. His books have garnered numerous prizes—the first was awarded to him based on just the opening chapter of The Discovery of Slowness.He now lives in Berlin.

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