A modern novel by the Berlin writer Sten Nadolny catches this spirit too. Ostensibly a fictionalised biography of the Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, it bears the wonderful title The Discovery of Slowness – a tribute to a man who, Nadolny fantasises, did everything with deliberation. I read it last January, holed up in a beachside house in Cape Cod, where the wind rocked the timbers and the freezing sea actually flowed under the building itself. It was tempting, in that brutal Atlantic sparseness, to seek the discovery of slowness. The very prose Nadolny uses slows the reader down – to the extent that I lost patience after the first chapter and threw the book across the room. But then I picked it back up and realised how brilliant it was. It physically forced me to consider the actions of its protagonist – and to think not only about what I was reading, but how and why I read.
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