If you could see any book published by Folio – any book at all – which would you choose? To mark our 75th anniversary, we asked for suggestions on what book we should publish.
The response was incredible and having received more than 5,000 suggestions we ended up with a shortlist of five books. Folio readers then voted again to choose their winner: Michael Ende’s iconic 1979 tale, The Neverending Story. Here, Folio Fiction Editor Sinéad O’Callaghan explores why The Neverending Story is the perfect edition to celebrate Folio’s 75th anniversary.
This article also features in our latest Folio magazine (free with your next order).
The power of imagination in The Neverending Story
I’d describe The Neverending Story as fantasy but not fantasy as you’d expect it to be. On one level, it is classic fantastical storytelling; its pages are peopled with luckdragons, night-hobs, sorcerers, giants, gnomes and racing snails. But it also carries a deeper meaning about the power of the imagination. This is a power both positive, with the creation of amazing worlds, new lives and fantastical beings, but also negative: if you rely too much on your imagination to escape real life, you end up losing your true self and your grip on reality.
An edition Ende would have admired
The story is broadly recognisable to those who know it only from the now-cult 1984 film. Author Michael Ende, however, was no fan of the film, telling The New York Times it was a ‘gigantic melodrama made of kitsch and commerce’. With that in mind, every care has been taken to ensure Ende would have loved the lavish new Folio edition, which was produced in close consultation with the Ende estate.
The illustrations are by Marie-Alice Harel, who also illustrated Folio’s ‘Howl’s Castle’ series, while the design follows Ende’s own description of the book Bastian discovers at the beginning of the story, complete with a copper-coloured art-silk binding that shimmers in the light and features interlocking snakes. As such, we feel we have remained true to Ende’s vision, as well as creating the book that we think will excite Folio readers and fans of the book alike.
Something new to discover
What Ende does so well in The Neverending Story is to ask big existential questions in a way that doesn’t interfere with the narrative. Why is Bastian so determined to leave his old self behind? What does it take for him to realise that his true being is the most important thing to him? When we go through strife and trauma, what do we do to distance ourselves from the real world and vanish into escapism? These questions add depth and richness for an adult audience, while retaining the magical and fantasy for younger readers. It’s the dream narrative in that sense – it invites you to reread, rediscover, reanalyse – and to find something new every time.