Bernhard Schlink

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Bernhard Schlink
Schlink in 2018
Schlink in 2018
BornBernhard Schlink
6 July 1944 (1944-07-06) (age 78)
Bielefeld, Germany
  • Author
  • professor
  • judge
EducationUniversity of Heidelberg
Free University of Berlin
Notable worksThe Reader
RelativesEdmund Schlink (father)

Bernhard Schlink (German: [ˈbɛʁn.haʁt ʃlɪŋk] (listen); born 6 July 1944)[1] is a German lawyer, academic, and novelist. He is best known for his novel The Reader, which was first published in 1995 and became an international bestseller. He won the 2014 Park Kyong-ni Prize.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Großdornberg, near Bielefeld, to a German father (Edmund Schlink) and a Swiss mother, the youngest of four children. His mother, Irmgard, had been a theology student of his father, whom she married in 1938. (Edmund Schlink's first wife had died in 1936.) Bernhard's father had been a seminary professor and pastor in the anti-Nazi Confessing Church. In 1946, he became a professor of dogmatic and ecumenical theology at Heidelberg University, where he would serve until his retirement in 1971. Over the course of four decades, Edmund Schlink became one of the most famous and influential Lutheran theologians in the world and a key participant in the modern Ecumenical Movement.[2] Bernhard Schlink was brought up in Heidelberg from the age of two. He studied law at West Berlin's Free University, graduating in 1968.[3]

Schlink became a judge at the Constitutional Court of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1988 and in 1992 a professor for public law and the philosophy of law at Humboldt University, Berlin. Among Schlink's academic students are Stefan Korioth and Ralf Poscher. He retired in January 2006.[4]


Schlink studied law at the University of Heidelberg and at the Free University of Berlin. He worked as a scientific assistant at the Universities of Darmstadt, Bielefeld and Freiburg.[5] He had been a law professor at the University of Bonn and Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main before he started in 1992 at Humboldt University of Berlin. His career as a writer began with several detective novels with the main character named Selb—a play on the German word for "self"—(the first, Self's Punishment, co-written with Walter Popp [de] being available in the UK). One of these, Die gordische Schleife, won the Glauser Prize [de] in 1989.

In 1995, he published The Reader (Der Vorleser), a novel about a teenager who has an affair with a woman in her thirties who suddenly vanishes but whom he meets again as a law student when visiting a trial about war crimes. The book became a bestseller both in Germany and the United States and was translated into 39 languages. It was the first German book to reach the No. 1 position in the New York Times bestseller list. In 1997, it won the Hans Fallada Prize, a German literary award, and the Prix Laure Bataillon for works translated into French. In 1999 it was awarded the Welt-Literaturpreis of the newspaper Die Welt.

In 2000, Schlink published a collection of short fiction called Flights of Love [de]. A January 2008 literary tour, including an appearance in San Francisco for City Arts & Lectures, was canceled due to Schlink's recovery from minor surgery.[citation needed]

In 2008, Stephen Daldry directed a film adaptation of The Reader. In 2010, his non-fiction political history, Guilt About the Past was published by Beautiful Books Limited (UK).

As of 2008, Schlink divides his time between New York and Berlin.[6] He is a member of PEN Centre Germany.[7]



Literary works in German[edit]

  • 1962 Der Andere
  • 1987 Selbs Justiz (Self's Punishment; with Walter Popp)
  • 1988 Die gordische Schleife (The Gordian Knot), Zurich: Diogenes
  • 1992 Selbs Betrug, Zurich: Diogenes
  • 1995 Der Vorleser (The Reader), Zurich: Diogenes
  • 2000 Liebesfluchten (Flights of Love), Zurich: Diogenes
  • 2001 Selbs Mord (Self's Murder), Zurich: Diogenes
  • 2006 Die Heimkehr (Homecoming: A Novel), Zurich: Diogenes
  • 2008 Das Wochenende (The Weekend: A Novel), Zurich: Diogenes
  • 2010 Sommerlügen – Geschichten (~ Summer Lies: Stories), Zurich: Diogenes
  • 2011 Gedanken über das Schreiben. Heidelberger Poetikvorlesungen. (Essays) Zurich: Diogenes, ISBN 978-3-257-06783-5
  • 2014 Die Frau auf der Treppe. (Novel) Zurich: Diogenes, ISBN 978-3-257-06909-9
  • 2018 Olga (Novel) Zurich: Diogenes, ISBN 978-3-257-07015-6[11][12]

Other works in German[edit]

  • 1976 Abwägung im Verfassungsrecht, Berlin: Duncker und Humblot
  • 1980 Rechtlicher Wandel durch richterliche Entscheidung: Beitraege zu einer Entscheidungstheorie der richterlichen Innovation, co-edited with Jan Harenburg and Adalbert Podlech, Darmstadt: Toeche-Mittler
  • 1982 Die Amtshilfe: Ein Beitrag zu einer Lehre von der Gewaltenteilung in der Verwaltung, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot
  • 1985 Grundrechte, Staatsrecht II, co-authored with Bodo Pieroth, Heidelberg: C.F. Müller
  • 2002 Polizei- und Ordnungsrecht, co-authored with Bodo Pieroth and Michael Kniesel, Munich: Beck
  • 2005 Vergewisserungen: über Politik, Recht, Schreiben und Glauben, Zurich: Diogenes
  • 2015 Erkundungen zu Geschichte, Moral Recht und Glauben, Zurich: Diogenes[13]

Titles in English[edit]


  1. ^ "Bernhard Schlink: Recht und Moral". Wiener Zeitung (in German). Vienna. 6 July 2019. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  2. ^ Matthew L. Becker, "Edmund Schlink (1903–1984)," in Twentieth-Century Lutheran Theologians, ed. Mark Mattes, 195–222 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck &Ruprecht, 2013)
  3. ^ "Bernhard Schlink page – biography bibliography interviews essays". 16 February 2004. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  4. ^ Welle (, Deutsche. "German bestselling author Bernhard Schlink turns 75 | DW | 05.07.2019". DW.COM. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  5. ^ "DFG – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – Schriftsteller und Wissenschaftler Bernhard Schlink zu Gast im Bonner Wissenschaftszentrum". Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  6. ^ "A dark inheritance". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 February 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Members". PEN-Zentrum Deutschland. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "LibGuides: US IB English-The Reader: Bernhard Schlink". LibGuides at American School of Madrid. 7 May 2020. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  9. ^ "Bernhard Schlink". internationales literaturfestival berlin (in German). Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  10. ^ Ahn Sung-mi (25 September 2014). "Bernhard Schlink wins Park Kyung-ni Literary Prize". Korea Herald. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  11. ^ Popescu, Lucy (17 November 2020). "Olga by Bernhard Schlink review – from Prussia with love". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Olga, by Bernhard Schlink — a love lost to adventurism". Financial Times. 10 December 2020. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 29 January 2021. (subscription required)
  13. ^ Schlink, Bernhard (15 July 2015). Erkundungen: zu Geschichte, Moral, Recht und Glauben. OCLC 923731638 – via Open WorldCat.
  14. ^ "Penguin Books Australia – Guilt About the Past". Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2014.

External links[edit]