Storytelling tricksters: a reader’s coming-of-age in young adult fantasy fiction in Germany




Kim, Chorong

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



In this thesis, I examine three works of modern German fantasy fiction for young adults, their common grounding in the Romantic aesthetic framework and in particular the Romantic notion of creativity, and the implication of their unique fantasy fiction paradigm in our modern day. The novels are Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (1979), Inkheart (2003) by Cornelia Funke and The City of Dreaming Books (2006) by Walter Moers. They represent a Germany-specific narrative paradigm which can be seen in the protagonist readers’ transformation from mere readers into storymakers/storytellers, and in the conflict between a book-loving hero and antagonists who are against literature. The protagonists embody the Romantic notion of creativity that involves the sublimation of a poet’s crisis into an exploration of the self. The mundane is infused with fantasy, thereby elevating reality to an idealised state. These Romantic storytelling readers act as tricksters, a fairy tale archetype that shares similarities with the figure of the Romantic poet. I employ the theoretical frameworks of German Romanticism, Frankfurt School critical theory, and postmodern models, including those by Deleuze and Guattari. I argue for a modern version of the trickster archetype which explains how a complacent, passive reader becomes an active storyteller.



Michael Ende, German Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Trickster, German Romanticism, Novalis, Cornelia Funke, Walter Moers, Young Adult Fiction, Young Adult Fantasy Fiction, German Young Adult Fantasy Fiction, The Neverending Story, Frankfurt School critical theory, Storytelling, Die Unendliche Geschichte, Tintenherz, Die Stadt der Träumenden Bücher, Heinrich von Ofterdingen, Culture Industry, Anglo-American fantasy fiction