When the German Michael Ende published his first successful novel in 1960, everyone thought it was a children’s story, but he was keen to point out that he had written it for adults like himself. In its successive editions, it is emphasised that this story should not be read alone, but in the company of your inner child.
New-born Jim Button arrives by post on the tiny island of Lummerland, where he is adopted by Luke the engine driver.
As he grows older, the king of the island fears that there is no longer enough room for all its inhabitants and orders Luke to get rid of his steam engine, Emma. In a gesture of chain friendship, Luke decides to go into exile with Emma, and Jim embarks on a journey of his own. The three friends set off on a journey to find out where Jim came from by post. To do so, they are prepared to cross the ocean to China, head to the desert called “the end of the world”, face dragons, meet giants that are not giants or be guided by a lighthouse that is very tall when seen from afar but tiny when seen up close.
This story is full of double meanings and hidden symbols that nod towards colonialism and racism.
It is a fantasy with subliminal messages, a monument of imagination dedicated to the symbiotic relationship between text and subtext around which philosophical tales have always been built.
As a novel written more than sixty years ago, its characters also contain traits that may be considered obsolete and even scandalous today, and which, in the end, must be unravelled by the same child who is reading with us.
Entire generations have already been introduced to reading with this magical work translated into 33 languages and written by the author of world-famous books such as Momo and The NeverEnding Story.
“Who reads ten centuries of history and doesn’t close it when they see the same things with a different date?”
At Trad&Go, experts in literary translation, we recommend that you take a closer look at this legendary literary tale of universal literature.
Read books: use the master key that opens every door
For as long as the world has existed and people have inhabited and travelled it, basically the same things have always happened, one generation after another. Since ancient times, books have been telling stories with their unhurried voice. Literature is the sharp and infallible microscope invented by human beings to look at themselves in the mirror of their conscience without being able to look away. The kaleidoscopic truth of literature hypnotises like an abyss and liberates like someone growing wings. Do you want to learn more? Read books. Do you hope to understand current affairs beyond their superficial disguise? Read books. Do you feel like a puppet in the gullible and indistinct daily crowd? Read books.