I didn’t realise that quite so much went into translating the Harry Potter book series. It makes sense after watching this video. At the same time, wow.
Image credit: João Silas
I watched The NeverEnding Story when I was a child and I loved the movie. I remember it as being a movie that fanned my passion for reading and boy did I read as a child although, ironically, I’m not sure if I read the book too. I was one of those children who was reading a year or two ahead of the rest of the class. Mostly this was because I spent so much time in the school library.
The NeverEnding Story was one of my childhood favourites. If you don’t remember the story, it involves a terrible threat to the fantasy land of Fantasia (yes, that is the name) and a quest to save this land. At the same time, this is no ordinary quest. The whole thing is a story in a book read by our protagonist, Bastian.
It is a very “meta” story that, as I realised when I watched it with my children tonight, is the literary equivalent of “turtles all the way down”. I think I superficially understood the notion of a boy’s imagination creating whole worlds (that, in turn, were filled with beings whose imaginations created more worlds) when I first watched the movie.
That notion only really made sense to me this evening, partly with Neil Gaiman’s help. I’m currently reading his new book, “The View from the Cheap Seats”. I read something he said about the role of fiction authors and how they tell stories, on the train this afternoon. This part caught my attention, mostly because of his source code analogy:
We don’t give them the people or the places or the emotions. What we give the reader is a raw code, a rough pattern, loose architectural plans that they use to build the book themselves.
The combination of Gaiman’s quote and watching The NeverEnding Story from an adult’s perspective brought it all together for me. It only took me about 30 years to catch on.
At the risk of stating the obvious (bear with me, I seem to be a bit slow with this one):
This whole thing was a little too Inception for our son. At the same time, both kids finished off the movie on a real buzz. Our son grabbed a book on his way to bed and I found him reading it when I finally put him to sleep.
The movie is more than a little dated, for sure. But the story left our kids excited about books and stories, just as it left me excited about my next book when I watched it about 30 years ago. That is a win to me.
The article includes a number of great quotes from Gaiman’s writings about, well, writing. Another of my favourite extracts is this one:
Ideas, written ideas, are special. They are the way we transmit our stories and our ideas from one generation to the next. If we lose them, we lose our shared history. We lose much of what makes us human. And fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gift of seeing the world through their eyes.
I especially like this line about the value of fiction writing:
Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.
Read “The Power of Cautionary Questions: Neil Gaiman on Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ Why We Read, and How Speculative Storytelling Enlarges Our Humanity” in its entirety on Brain Pickings: