“Writing is an adventure for me” – visit to the ende museum

Typewriter and book © Peerayot (shutterstock)

The spiritual father of Momo and Jim Knopf, Michael Ende, would have turned 90 on Tuesday. In Munich, part of his colorful estate is held in honor at the International Youth Library.

The black hat and cane for going out hang next to the door, ready to hand. But they wait in vain for the owner. Along with furniture, a dozen pipes, homemade puppets, tarot cards and, above all, more than 3.000 books, these things belong to the estate of the children's author Michael Ende (1929-1995). Since 1998, they have had their place in their own Michael Ende Museum in the Munich International Youth Library. This Tuesday, the 12. November, the author born in Garmisch-Partenkirchen would have been 90 years old.

Extensive private library

Anyone who enters the museum on the top floor in a side wing of Blutenburg Castle is immediately immersed in the writer's fantasy worlds. On a large table you will find, among others, "The Teddy and the Animals," "Momo," "The Neverending Story" and the adventures of "Jim Knopf and the Wild 13. They invite you to sit down and browse. There are not only the 30 books published by Ende in original and licensed editions, which have been published in more than 40 languages, but also many works from which he drew his inspiration.

About 3.000 volumes comprised his private library. The great poets and thinkers such as Goethe and Nietzsche are represented as well as the life and work of Jean Cocteau. The author was also an avid reader of Greek sagas, Celtic myths and fantastic tales. The display cases also contain clearly worn works such as a book on "Old and New Magic" or the "Textbook of Practical Astrology". From time to time Ende played his guitar, which was also on display, or listened to the music of Angelo Branduardi on records.

Initial rejections

Ende, who originally trained as an actor, was also inspired by the surrealist paintings of his father Edgar. The latter, in turn, artistically implemented his son's ideas. One example is the 1958 painting "The Fear of the Mountains". It shows a mountain in the shape of a human couple embracing, with a steaming locomotive emerging from it. The parallels to the "Wild 13" are unmistakable.

At the same time, the 500-page script "Jim Knopf" was not initially well received. It was rejected ten times, until the Thienemann publishing house decided to publish the book in two parts in 1960. A year later, it won the German Youth Book Prize – and when the Augsburger Puppenkiste brought the stories to television, a bestseller was born. The big success was to come with "Momo," for which Ende even created the drawings, and with "The Neverending Story. "Writing for me is an adventure where you never know where it will take you," the author once said.

Symbols of age and wisdom

But while children loved his books, critics of the 1970s were hard on Ende. They accused him of escaping from the present with the novels, and missed the social relevance demanded at the time. This offended him, but Ende remained true to himself, like his picture book heroine "Tranquilla Trampeltreu – die beharrliche Schildkrote" (Tranquilla Trampeltreu – the persistent turtle). In his novels, reptiles appear again and again as a symbol of slowness, age and wisdom. In his "Casa Liocorno" (Unicorn House) in the Alban Hills, he kept turtles as pets; later he could no longer save himself from turtle figurines given to him as gifts.

In the museum, the original manuscript of "Momo," typed on a typewriter, can be found in the display cases alongside bits and pieces. A special feature is the complete edition of his work translated into Japanese by Ende's second wife, the Japanese Mariko Sato. The author, whose books have sold millions of copies, died on 28. August 1995 in Filderstadt. He is buried in Munich's Waldfriedhof cemetery. Angerer the Elder designed a large and a small open book for Ende's final resting place. Between them sits a turtle, on whose shell are the words: "Do not be afraid".

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