Friday, April 12, 2013

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (Children's Literature)

Ende, Michael. The Neverending Story. Illustrated by Roswitha Quadflieg. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Penguin Books, 1979. (396 pages)
It was quite an experience reading this book. There were times when the reading of it came easy, other times when it was slow-going. There was an irritating section of the book where I never finished a chapter without falling asleep. Then I had to sort out which things I read and which things I created myself during my dreams. But also, my optimistic side (which almost always trumps my critical side) found things to love and use all throughout the meta-narrative. For example, I thought about how a language arts teacher could use untold endings as creative writing prompts for his or her students.
The first half of the book was easy and enjoyable to read. That's the part of the book that is just like the 80s movie. Once Bastian entered Fantastica, I became less interested and even annoyed at points. I did not like how disjointed the action was, I didn't like all the loose ends dangling out there with the tired cliché “that’s another story for another time”, I did not like Bastian being skinny and power-hungry. I was getting downright grumpy about the book (this was the time when I kept falling asleep while reading). However, I really loved the last few chapters in which Bastian searches, grows, works, and loves. This short section is very deep and I wish I had more time to think about it. The city of old emperors, the sea of mist, the house of change, the mine of pictures, and the water of life were all wonderful pictures of what journeys we all go through in life. It was good to think about a question like: What sorts of things need to happen to us in order to make us content with life as it is? Perhaps we need to see the emptiness of where our own blind ambition may lead us, perhaps we need to experience a time of loneliness so that we desire relationships, perhaps we need to conform to a crowd for a while so that we desire individuality, perhaps we need to be children again for a time so that we desire self-giving, perhaps we need to work hard for a time and learn the value of work, perhaps we need to mine deeper, perhaps we need pictures in our minds of people we want to love.

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