Sten Nadolny

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Sten Nadolny at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2017

Sten Rudolf Alexander Nadolny [ steːn naˈdɔlni ] (born  July 29, 1942 in Zehdenick , Templin district , Brandenburg province ) is a German writer . His greatest success is the bestseller The Discovery of Slowness .


Origin and youth

Sten Nadolny is the son of a couple of writers. He grew up in Chieming am Chiemsee , where his maternal grandfather, the painter Alexander Peltzer, built a house in 1932 that is now on Isabella-Nadolny-Weg. The father Burkhard Nadolny , son of the diplomat Rudolf Nadolny , was a writer close to Gruppe 47 , whose works, however, never met with great approval from the public. The mother Isabella Nadolny later became more successful with her family novels.

Sten Nadolny definitely did not want to take up his parents' profession. Even in his youth, however, he showed an interest in the British polar explorer John Franklin , who would later become the main character of his most successful novel.

Studies and first activities

After graduating from high school in Traunstein , Nadolny trained as a reserve officer ; he visited u. a. the Army Officer School III in Munich. He then studied Medieval Studies and Modern History as well as Political Science in Munich , Tübingen , Göttingen and Berlin . In 1976 he received his doctorate from the Free University of Berlin under Thomas Nipperdey on the subject of disarmament diplomacy in 1932/1933 . His grandfather Rudolf Nadolny had headed the German delegation at the Geneva Conference of the League of Nations in 1932/1933 . During his studies, Nadolny also came into contact with the student movement of the 1960s , whose ideas he was initially taken with, only to reject them all the more resolutely after their radicalization and, for example, in the novel Selim or The Gift of Speech in retrospect as an " APO disease" describe.

Following his studies Nadolny was teacher of History in Berlin-Spandau . However, he soon gave up the teaching profession in order to get into the film business in 1977 after intermediate stops as a taxi driver and prison helper. As manager Nadolny was among others at the Berlin film scenes of James Bond 007 - Octopussy involved. Nadolny wanted to become a film director , but received a scholarship for a script expo é. The planned film Netzkarte was never realized, instead Nadolny turned the material into his first novel.

Literary work

The Percy Warberger trio (from left): Harald Eggebrecht , Michael Winter and Sten Nadolny;
1995 at a reading by Otto Stender in the Georgsbuchhandlung in Hanover

When Nadolny entered the Ingeborg Bachmann Competition in 1980 at the age of 38 , it was his first major appearance on the literary stage. He read Copenhagen in 1801 , the fifth chapter of the bestseller The Discovery of Slowness , published three years later . Based on the life of polar explorer John Franklin, the book describes the career of a person who is immensely slower than the rest of the world and, despite or perhaps because of his slowness, goes his way and becomes a famous captain and explorer. Nadolny received the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize , but divided the prize money of 14,000 marks among all the participants in order, as he explained, to “debitter the competition”.

Even before The Discovery of Slowness , Nadolny's first work, the novel Netzkarte , appeared in 1981 . The protagonist of the book is the 30-year-old student trainee Ole Reuter, who is going on a month-long trip on the Federal Railroad . 18 years later, the author resurrected the now aged main character in He or I. In between were the novels Selim or Die Gabe der Rede (1990), a contemporary novel about the Federal Republic of Germany with the young German Alexander and the Turkish guest worker Selim as protagonists, and Ein Gott der Verchheit (1994), in which the messenger of the gods Hermes into the present is moved.

Sten Nadolny (left) and Jens Sparschuh , 2009

Together with Harald Eggebrecht and Michael Winter he wrote under the pseudonym Percy Warberger the feature novel The great game or In the thicket of desires , which appeared in 53 episodes in the Süddeutsche Zeitung and was published as a book in 1995. With the Ullstein novel from 2003, Nadolny wrote the story of the Ullstein family and the Ullstein publishing house . In cleaning and mending lessons. Two cold warriors remember (2009) Nadolny and Jens Sparschuh report on their military service in East and West Germany.

In 2012 Nadolny published the novel Weitlings Sommerfrische , in which he processed numerous details of his own biography against the background of a retired judge's journey through time in his youth. Like his main character Weitling, Nadolny also lives in Berlin and on the Chiemsee. In 2017, in The Magician's Luck , he looked back on the history of the 20th century from the perspective of a magician and in the form of a letter novel .

In 1990 Nadolny gave the Munich Poetics Lectures at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich . Ten years later, the poetics lectures at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen followed . He is a member of the PEN Center Germany . In 2020, Sten Nadolny gave his deduction to the Monacensia .




  • Wolfgang Bunzel (Ed.): Sten Nadolny . Edition Isele, Eggingen 1996, ISBN 3-86142-064-3
  • Norbert Berger: Sten Nadolny. The discovery of slowness. Contemporary novels - ideas and materials. Auer Verlag, Donauwörth 2004, ISBN 3-403-04039-9
  • Jörn Steigerwald: Hermes configurations: Mediation of postmodernist writing in Calvino's 'Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore' and Nadolny's 'A God of Cheekiness' . In: KulturPoetik 8, 2 (2008), pp. 187-202

Web links

Commons : Sten Nadolny  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Off-site sailing. The writer Sten Nadolny . Manuscript of a broadcast by Knut Cordsen on Deutschlandradio Kultur , July 24, 2012.
  2. Jens Sparschuh, Sten Nadolny: cleaning and mending hour. Two cold warriors remember . Piper ebooks, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-492-95789-2 , o. P.
  3. a b Sten Nadolny in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely accessible)
  4. Sybille Zehle: Writing against the hurry . In: Die Zeit of December 14, 1984.
  5. Friedmar Apel : A secret for Munich . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of June 13, 1996.
  6. ^ Göttingen poetics lectures at the Georg-August University .
  7. ^ Sten Nadolny receives Rheingau Literature Prize . In: Saarbrücker Zeitung (Culture) of 23 August 2012, p. B5