The Neverending Story: Google Doodle celebrates 37th anniversary of Michael Ende’s book-within-a-book

The book-within-a-book topped the bestseller lists in author, Michael Ende’s native Germany, when it was released on 1 September 1979

Alexandra Sims
Wednesday 31 August 2016 23:44
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Google Doodle: What is the Neverending Story?

Fantasy children’s novel The Neverending Story is being celebrated by Google on the 37th anniversary of its publication.

The book-within-a-book topped the bestseller lists in author Michael Ende’s native Germany when it was released on 1 September 1979 and has gone on to sell tens of millions of copies world-wide.

The enchanting story of the lonely boy Bastian Balthazar Bux who leaps into the pages of a book he finds in an antiques shop was lauded for its unique subversion of fairy tale norms and catapulted Ende into international renown.

Here are five facts you need to know about the spellbinding book and the man who wrote it.

1) Ende "had no idea how to write a children's book"

Born in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Ende was the only child of the surrealist artist Edgar Ende. He began writing by penning satirical sketches for cabarets and went on to write film and theatre reviews for Munich radio.

An artist friend of Ende later asked him to write the text for a children's book he was illustrating, the result of which was Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver - his first best seller.

He told later told People magazine: "I had no idea how to write a children's book".

2) Each chapter begins with a succeeding letter of the alphabet

On its publication, the book was praised for its alternative composition, which features two ongoing and differently coloured narratives and chapters that begin with a succeeding letter of the alphabet from A to Z.

Illustrator Roswitha Quadflieg realised the story's mythic feel by adorning each chapter with a decorative initial, which had their origins in medieval scripts.

3) Ende called the film adaption a 'revolting movie'

Many will know The Neverending Story from its 1984 film adaption and at the time it was the most expensive film production in German cinema, at around $27 million.

Despite having collaborated with the film's script writer, Ende publicly lambasted the film, referring to it as "the revolting movie" during a press conference and demanded that his name was removed from the credits.

He claimed: "The makers of the film simply did not understand the book at all. They just wanted to make money".

He also criticised the film's bare-chested, laser-shooting Sphinx statues, saying: "The Sphinxes are quite one of the biggest embarrassments of the film. They are full-bosomed strippers who sit there in the desert".

4) The book became a symbol of the West German anti-nuclear movement

The novel won a series of critical awards across Europe including the Buxtehuder Bulle and Wilhelm Hauff Prizes in Germany, the Premio Europeo "Provincia di Trento" Award in Italy, and the International Janusz Korczak Prize in Poland.

It was also adopted as a symbol of the West German anti-nuclear movement.

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