The Neverending Story Has an Anniversary Doodle

Google tells me with a lovely doodle that it’s the 37th anniversary of the first printing of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

Google Doodle Falkor from Neverending Story

Originally published in German on September 01, 1979, Die unendliche Geschichte was translated into Finnish in 1982 (and apparently English in 1983, with the film adaptation in 1984). I can’t quite remember if I ever read it. At the same time, I want to recall a gorgeous tome with both green and red print, so I guess I must at least have been handling the Finnish translation at one point.

Finnish translation of The Neverending Story (Tarina vailla loppua) by Katja Jalkanen at Lumiomena

(No, I did not imagine the green and red print!)

While the movie version isn’t terribly well-made nor the first I saw in a theater, it is one of the first screen adaptations that made me realize I was a geek even if I didn’t have a word for it at the time. It’s purely for nostalgia that I own and occasionally rewatch it. I’m now wondering whether I should’ve bought the book instead.

Images: Falkor from Neverending Story by Sophie Diao via Google Doodle. Finnish translation of The Neverending Story (Tarina vailla loppua) by Katja Jalkanen at Lumiomena

This post has been edited for style.

ICBIHRTB—pronounced ICK-bert-bee—is short for ‘I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read This Before’. It’s an occasional feature for book classics that have for some reason escaped our notice thus far.

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Ursula LeGuin: The Left Hand of Darkness

My latest reading project rolls on with The Left Hand of Darknessby Ursula LeGuin (first published in 1969).

21 Authors Left Hand of Darkness

Genly Ai is sent to planet Gethen (also known as Winter due to its extremely cold climate) as an envoy for the Ekumen of Known Worlds, an interstellar conglomeration for trade and cultural exchange. His mission is to convince the planet to join the Ekumen, easier said than done on a world where the conditions are semi-arctic even at the warmest time of the year and where cultures and technologies change at a glacial pace. (Pardon the pun!)

I knew a little of Left Hand before reading it. I knew that it’s highly regarded, that the inhabitants of the world are androgynous (or something) and that there’s an arduous trek across a glacier (or snowy steppes or somesuch) that’s somehow significant.

I also knew that some people describe the book as being about gender. Gethenians are all of the same sex – or, rather, of no sex until their monthly reproductive cycle known as kemmer comes around. At that point, depending on who else is in kemmer nearby, a person may turn either into a Gethenian male or female, and it’s quite usual for someone to be both a mother and a father.

I’m not entirely sure yet what Left Hand is about for me. The Gethenian biology does get a lot of attention, but I suspect it’s because it’s so unfathomable to Ai. The importance of hospitality and cooperation in the cold climate is also significant, as are the balancing of opposite forces (like you-me or individual-society), the complex Gethenian honor system shifgrethor and their aversion to war. Karhide’s neighboring country Orgoreyn sounds like a communist regime, with its people described as units instead of citizens and its communal resources or endless bureaucracy; Orgoreyn may, in an unprecedented step, be moving towards starting a war with Karhide, and we might have a Cold War echo there.

Structurally, Left Hand avoids infodump by alternating the present-day narrative chapters with short chapters on Gethenian mythology. I was a little bothered by how much longer the primary narrative chapters were, for it made reading the novel choppy; I may well change my mind about that if I read Left Hand again.

I’ve seen LeGuin’s writing described as zen-like. The descriptor fits her style in Left Handwell, especially when she’s describing traveling across the icy landscape. A fascinating read, and one I may well like to get back to after mulling it over. Considering that I very much enjoy and have read LeGuin’s Earthsea stories several times in two languages, I can’t believe I haven’t read The Left Hand of Darkness before!

Crossposted from the Playfully Grownup Home blog.

Image by Eppu Jensen

This post has been edited for style.

ICBIHRTBpronounced ICK-bert-beeis short for ‘I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read This Before’. It’s an occasional feature for book classics that have for some reason escaped our notice thus far.