Download PDF:
For citation:

Astashchenko E.V. Religious Dimension of German “Unending Book” in the Children’s Fantasy by Cornelia Funke. Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 1, pp. 102–117. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-1-102-117

Author: Elena V. Astashchenko
Information about the author:

Elena V. Astashchenko, PhD in Philology, Maxim Gorky Institute of Literature and Creative Writing, Tverskoy bul’var, 25, 123104 Moscow, Russia.

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Received: July 01, 2017
Published: March 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №1
Department: World Literature
Pages: 102-117

UDK: 821.112.2.0
BBK: 83.3(4Гем)75
Keywords: children’s fiction, Die unendliche Geschichte, hermeneutics, didacticism, escapism.


This article examines a fantasy genre in the work of Cornelia Funke against the background of Protestantism and “Als ob” (“as if”) philosophy. Alongside, it also explores fantastic Romantic novels written by modern German authors (M. Gläser, K. Gier, K. Mayer, and V. Moers) that champion the cult of literature and writing. The  essay thus attempts to systematize the features of German identity as revealed through representation of childhood and the national specificity of fictional art. The symbol of “an unending book” as a way of reconstructing the world is at the very basis of German culture and is endowed with religious meanings, from Novalis to M. Ende and more recently to C. Funke. In The Thief Lord (Herr der Diebe), a novel full of references to E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Princess Brambilla, F. Pforr’s and F. Overbek’s paintings, Funke seeks to combine German love of dreaming with poeticized Italian joyfulness and love of life. For example, the novel’s characters discover a magical carousel on the Isle of Mysteries and set off on an existential journey. In the course of this journey, they try to recognize themselves “in other clothes that seem to belong to the past,” in a fashion similar to Heinrich von Ofterdingen. In the Inkheart trilogy (Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath), the author underscores the vernicle nature of verbal reality and its power over human existence; she also touches upon the problem of the author and her literary gift. According to Funke, a human being should certainly correspond to his or her higher destination and be directed by the inner moral law. However, it is words, like prayers in late Kant, that transform and create the universe.


1 Averincev S.S. Protestantizm [Protestantism]. Sobranie sochinenij [Works], ed. N.P. Averintsev i K.B. Sigov. Kiev, DUH I LITERA Publ., 2006, pp. 365–371. (In Russ.)

2 Bahman I. Voistinu: Stihi [It’s poetry indeed!] ed., intro. and comment. E. Sokolova. Moscow, Nezavisimaja gazeta Publ., 2000. 176 p. (In German & Russ.)

3 Kant I. Kritika sposobnosti suzhdenija [The Critique of judgement]. Moscow, Iskusstvo Publ., 1994. 367 p. (In Russ.)

4 Krjus Dzh. Tim Taler, ili Prodannyj smeh: Fantasticheskaja povest’ [Krüss, James. Tim Taler, or the boy who sold his laughter, trans. from German A. Isaeva. St. Petersburg, Azbuka-klassika Publ., 2004. 352 p. (In Russ.)

5 Kudrjavceva T.V. Novejshaja nemeckaja pojezija (1900–2000-e gg.): osnovnye tendencii i hudozhestvennye orientiry [The main trends and the artistic aspects of contemporary German poetry (1900–2000)]. Moscow, IMLI RAN Publ., 2008. 344 p. (In Russ.)

6 Novalis. Genrih fon Ofterdingen. Izbrannaja proza nemeckih romantikov; v 2 t. [Heinrich von Ofterdingen. Selected fiction of German Romantics: in 2 vols.], intro. A. Dmitriev; comment. M. Rudnicky. Moscow, Hudozh. Lit. Publ., 1979. Vol. 1. 379 p. (In Russ.)

7 Sokolova E.V. Vzaimosvjaz’ “pola” i “jazyka” v tvorchestve Ingeborg Bahman i Jel’fridy  Elinek: Analit. obzor [The correlation of “sex” and “language” in the works by Ingeborg Bahman and Elfrida Elinek]. Moscow, RAN INION Publ., 2012. 130 p. (In Russ.)

8 Funke K. Bezshabashny [Reckless], trans. from German O. Bochenkova. St. Petersburg, Azbuka Publ., 2016. 576 p. (In Russ.)

9 Funke K. Korol’ vorov [The Prince of the thiefs], trans. from German M. Rudnicky. Moscow, Rosmjen Publ., 2003. 477 p. (In Russ.)

10 Funke K. Chernil’naja krov’ [Inkspell], trans. M. Sokol’skoj. Moscow, Rosmjen Publ., 2007. 752 p. (In Russ.)

11 Funke K. Chernil’noje serdzhe [Inkheart], trans. M. Sokol’skoj. Moscow, Rosmjen Publ., 2007. 752 p. (In Russ.)

12 Funke K. Chernil’naja smert’ [Inkdead], trans. M. Sokol’skaya. Moscow, Mahaon, Azbuka-Attikus Publ., 2012. 672 p. (In Russ.)

13 Jebanoidze I.A. Fridrich Nietzsche [Friedrich Nietzsche]. Literaturnij prozhes v Germanii pervoj poloviny XX veka (kluchevije I znakovije fiiguri) [Literary process in Germany in the first half of the 20 th century (key and symbolic figures)]. Moscow, IMLI RAN Publ., 2008, pp. 64–93. (In Russ.)

14 Jende M. Beskonechnaja Istorija: skazochnaja povest’ [Unending story: a fairy tale], trans. from German A. Isaeva, L. Lungina. St. Petersburg, Amfora Publ., 2009. 504 p. (In Russ.)

15 Anhäuser U. Schinderhannes und seine Bande. Einbeck, Rhein-Mosel-Verlag, 2003. 173 s. (In German)

16 Dougill J. Oxford. A Literary Guide. Oxford, Oxface Publications, 2006. 39 p. (In English)

17 Gläser M. Die Buchspringer. Bindlach, Loewe Verlag, 2015. 384 s. (In German)

18 Gläser M. Emma, der Faun und das vergessene Buch. Bindlach, Loewe Verlag, 2017. 354 s. (In German)

19 Ende M. Die unendliche Geschichte. Stuttgart, Thienemann Verlag GmbH., 2007. 315 s. (In German)

20 Funke C. Tintenblut. Hamburg, Cecile Dressler Verlag GmbH.&Co., 2005. 653 s. (In German)

21 Funke C. Tintenherz. Hamburg, Cecile Dressler Verlag GmbH.&Co., 2003. 576 s. (In German)

22 Funke C. Tintentod. Hamburg, Cecile Dressler Verlag GmbH.&Co., 2007. 653 s. (In German)

23 Funke C. Reckless: das goldene Garn. Hamburg, Cecile Dressler Verlag GmbH.&Co., 2010. 653 s. (In German)

24 Funke C. Reckless: Steinernes Fleisch. Hamburg, Cecile Dressler Verlag GmbH.&Co., 2010. 305 s. (In German)

25 Kaschnitz M.L. Ein Gedicht. Available at: ttp:// (Accessed 12 May 2017). (In German)

26 Meyer K. Die Seiten der Welt. Nachtland. Frankfurt am Main, Fisher Verlag GmbH., 2015. 592 s. (In German)

27 Ogden Ch.K., Richards I.A. The Meaning of Meaning. A Study of the Influence of Lan guage upon Thought and the Science of Simbolism. New York, Harcourt, Brace&World, 1946. 363 p. (In English)

28 Reifenberg Fr.M., Strathmann J. Albertine und das Haus der tausend Wunder. Stuttgart, ThienemannVerlag GmbH., 2004. 320 s. (In German)

29 Vaihinger H. Die Philosophie des Als Ob. System der theoretischen, praktischen und religiosen Fictionen der Menschheit auf Grund eines idealistischen Positivismus. Mit einem Anhang über Kant und Nietzsche. Leipzig, Verlag von Felix Meiner, 1922. 804 s. (In German)

30 Zusak M. The book thief. New York, Random House Children’s Books, 2006. 552 p. (In English)