the neverending story by michael ende

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende is one of those books that I really should have read already.  A hundred years ago.  When I was ten.  At the very latest yesterday.  It’s meta.  Cortazar for kids!  Books are dangerous and powerful and magical.  The lines between reality and fiction are nebulous, and reading can transport you, literally, to another world.  Right up my alley.

The legend that has sprung up around the writing of the book just adds to the magic.  It took a long time to write, much longer than expected, and the deeper than Ende got into the writing, the harder he found it to leave Fantasia again.  After several years, he is reported to have slipped so deeply into the world of the book within the book that he wasn’t sure even he could figure out how to get Bastian out again.  Or himself.  Really, this is a story in a story in a story.  Who knows where reality ended and began.  Michael Ende certainly didn’t.

And get this: Michael Ende was German.  Holy shit!  I could read this in the original language!  (No offense, translators, you work a magic all your own.)  But holy shit!  Having only ever been exposed to the rather cheesey (English language) cult film, I never even suspected that this wasn’t an English language creation.  How stupid.  And Ende has written all sorts of other interesting books that look weird and fantastical and Borgesian.  There’s Der Spiegel im Spiegel.  Ein Labyrinth.  There’s Momo (kids book about time travel).  And at least 25 more.

I would say I can’t believe I have never gotten around to reading Ende, but you’ve seen my to-read pile.  And when it comes to German fantastical authors, I’ve been distracted by Walter Moers.

While I’m babbling about Ende, I should mention that you can win a free copy of the audio book over here right now.  To enter you need to like a facebook page and enter a name and country.  Doing so might get you a copy of the audio book (five available) and will make me look good at work.  The audio is in German, but you could just put it on for background music and marvel at how un-ugly and not-so-very-harsh the German language actually is.

Have you read The Neverending Story?  (Or anything else by Ende for that matter?)

0 Comments on “the neverending story by michael ende

  1. I love the movie so much, that it still doesn’t even look cheesy to me, even now that I’m all grown up and cynical. So I was pretty excited to get the book and have it for bedtime read-alouds when my stepson was about 11 years old. I liked the first bit, the bit that was like the movie, but I became increasingly uncomfortable with the directions it was taking as it went on. Maybe Ende really did spend too long tripping out in this land. My partner and I were both concerned about how the main character was making so many morally dubious choices and then not experiencing consequences – we started to feel it wasn’t actually an appropriate story to read to children.
    I absolutely adored Momo. I knew an amazing punk woman in Zurich who named herself Momo and her little dog Basti.

  2. I first listened to it as an audio play.
    I found it somewhat hard to read as a child, rather long and complex and challenging, but great to re-read later, with lots of fantastic imagination and powerful metaphors.
    I didn’t mind the morality part, as I think the book makes it clear that Bastian is on the wrong path, losing himself and closing the door back to reality.

    I read Momo but don’t remember much, but loved
    “Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch”, which is about an evil wizard and a witch trying desperately on New Year’s Eve to fulfill their quota of evil deeds for the year by cooking up a magic make-your-evil-wishes-come-true punch. Other than getting wasted, they fail completely, because the magician’s cat and some other animal manage to turn the effect into the opposite.
    Fun to read as a kid, and full of tongue-in-cheek references when I was a little older.

  3. I love what you write about German at the end. 🙂 I love the sound of German, especially in this area, and hate that people are endlessly sending around this stupid video comparing horribly, harsh, overexagerated German to other languages.

  4. When I read the Neverending Story as a 10-year-old, there was a paragraph at the end that made me realize this was more than a book. It described the reader who was reading about Bastian reading the book and it described me to a “T”. The way I held the book in my cross legged lap, how my head was bent over the pages, my hands on my chin. Eerie…

  5. Lady D: I can’t wait until Pickles is old enough for me to read her stuff like this.

    Jan: That one sounds pretty funny. And onto the list.

    Sherah: I thought that video was pretty funny myself. Particularly because the German language doesn’t sound harsh unless you go out of your way to make it so. But of course they were just playing off of the stereotype.

    I think most Americans have basically only ever heard the Nazis in the Indian Jones films (and other similar) so yeah, they think its ugly. I used to chase my housemates around the apartment with a spoon while yelling banalities in German. I do enjoy that you can, if you so choose, very very easily make really sweet or boring stuff sound totally crazy auf Deutsch. But that’s just me.

    Christina: God I love that feeling. Cortazar has a short story that totally kills me it does that so well. Crap, can’t think of the name of it at the moment. It’s in Blow Up and Other Stories, if you’re interested.

  6. You should have read all of Ende’s work by age 12!!!
    You still on time to make amends … but better start on with Momo, the real masterpiece!

  7. I read the Neverending Story as a teenager and loved it. I’ve always loved the movie, and actually never thought of it as cheesy (which maybe says a lot about how melodramatic I am?).

    I like how as I’m researching ideas for your new website, I get to read your articles…

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