Die unendliche Geschichte, La historia interminable. The book of my life? Maybe. How come then I did not like it that much when I read it the second time?
Remids me of the joke by Les Luthiers: “Yes, I did watch that movie. The second time, I did not understand it.”
I think it was Milorad Pavić who said a good book must be read three times: once, when the reader is younger than the main characters, a second time when they are the same age, a third one when the reader is older. That’s more or less my case.
Indeed, the book completely captivated me when I first read it. I was about 14, and was deeply impressed by the beautiful Spanish edition by Alfaguara, with two covers and two ink colours: green and red. One of my fondest memories is excitingly describing the book to my father, only to find out he had also loved it (he read it through in one go, in fact).
Then, in my 20-somethings I took it again, and did not find all that great. Specially the middle part, when I thought the action was a bit slow.
And I have just re-read it, and I think it’s just fantastic! Not a single comma needs altering. How can this be? Does this tell you anything about human nature? (or, my nature at least). Is it because I have children. Probably…
Also, I re-read Momo and found it excellent as well. This was my second reading, since I read it as a teenager.
About translations: unluckily, my German is too poor to tackle the original version. The Spanish translation is quite decent. But the English one was by Ralph Manheim. There is a translator prize named after him! (The PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation.) For die Kindliche Kaiserin, Emperatriz Infantil does not sound as good as The Childlike Empress, somehow.