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Jonathan Rogers
Jonathan Rogers

The Art of Listening: Momo's Gift and Challenge

Momo - Michael Ende (English).17


If you are looking for a book that will make you think about the value of time, the power of imagination, and the importance of friendship, then you might want to read Momo by Michael Ende. Momo is a fantasy novel that was first published in German in 1973 and has been translated into many languages, including English. The book has been adapted into a movie, a musical, a radio play, and a video game. It is considered one of the most influential and beloved children's books of all time.

Momo - Michael Ende (English).17


What is Momo?

Momo is the name of the main character and the title of the book. She is a young girl who lives in an abandoned amphitheater in a city that is ruled by time. She has no parents, no possessions, and no education. But she has something that makes her special: she can listen. She listens to people with such attention and empathy that they feel happier and more confident after talking to her. She also has a few friends who care for her: Beppo, a street sweeper; Gigi, a storyteller; and Cassiopeia, a tortoise who can communicate with her through writing on her shell.

Who is Michael Ende?

Michael Ende was a German writer who was born in 1929 and died in 1995. He is best known for his fantasy and children's books, such as The Neverending Story, Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver, and Momo. He was influenced by various literary and philosophical movements, such as romanticism, surrealism, existentialism, and anthroposophy. He was also interested in mythology, folklore, and fairy tales. He used his books to explore themes such as creativity, freedom, responsibility, and spirituality.

Why is the book called Momo - Michael Ende (English).17?

The book is called Momo - Michael Ende (English).17 because it is the 17th edition of the English translation of the book. The first English translation was published in 1984 by J. Maxwell Brownjohn. The 17th edition was published in 2018 by McSweeney's Books with illustrations by Marcel Dzama. The book has been reprinted several times in different formats and editions, reflecting its popularity and relevance.

Summary of the book

The main characters

The main characters of the book are:

  • Momo: A young girl who lives in an amphitheater and has the gift of listening.

  • Beppo: A street sweeper who is Momo's friend and protector.

  • Gigi: A storyteller who entertains people with his tales and jokes.

  • Cassiopeia: A tortoise who can communicate with Momo through writing on her shell.

  • The Men in Grey: The antagonists of the book who are agents of the Timesaving Bank. They steal people's time by convincing them to save it for later.

  • Master Hora: The guardian of time who lives in a hidden place called Nowhere House. He controls the flow of time with his hourglass.

  • The Professor: A scientist who invents a device that can detect the Men in Grey.

The plot

The plot of the book is as follows:

  • The book begins with Momo living happily in the amphitheater with her friends. She helps people with their problems by listening to them.

  • One day, the Men in Grey appear in the city. They are dressed in grey suits and smoke grey cigars. They work for the Timesaving Bank, which promises to give people more time in the future if they deposit their current time. They persuade people to give up their hobbies, passions, and leisure activities and to work harder and faster. They also make people forget their dreams and memories.

  • As people start to save time, they become more stressed, unhappy, and selfish. They lose their creativity, joy, and sense of community. They also stop visiting Momo, who becomes lonely and sad.

  • Momo decides to investigate the Men in Grey and follows them to their headquarters. She discovers that they are not human, but parasites who feed on people's time. She also learns that they are afraid of her because she can resist their influence.

  • Momo escapes from the Men in Grey and meets Master Hora, who tells her that he has stopped the flow of time to prevent the Men in Grey from stealing more time. He gives her a special hourglass that allows her to move in the frozen time. He also sends Cassiopeia to help her.

  • Momo returns to the city and finds her friends trapped by the Men in Grey. She manages to free them by making them remember their true selves and their dreams. She also confronts the leader of the Men in Grey, who tries to tempt her with false promises.

  • Momo succeeds in destroying the Timesaving Bank and the Men in Grey by using her hourglass. She returns all the stolen time to the people, who wake up from their trance and celebrate. She also reunites with Master Hora, who resumes the flow of time.

  • The book ends with Momo living happily in the amphitheater with her friends. She continues to listen to people and help them with their problems.

The themes

The book explores various themes, such as:

  • Time: The book shows how time is a precious and finite resource that should be used wisely and joyfully. It criticizes the modern obsession with productivity, efficiency, and speed that leads to stress, alienation, and emptiness. It also celebrates the value of living in the present moment, being attentive to one's surroundings, and appreciating the small things in life.

  • Imagination: The book shows how imagination is a powerful and creative force that can enrich one's life and inspire others. It contrasts the imaginative and colorful world of Momo and her friends with the dull and grey world of the Men in Grey. It also warns against the dangers of losing one's imagination due to conformity, materialism, and rationalism.

  • Friendship: The book shows how friendship is a vital and rewarding aspect of human existence that can provide support, comfort, and happiness. It depicts the strong bond between Momo and her friends, who share their stories, feelings, and dreams. It also shows how friendship can overcome differences, challenges, and conflicts.

Analysis of the book

The style and language

The book is written in a simple and clear language that is suitable for children and adults alike. The book uses descriptive and figurative language to create vivid images and emotions. The book also uses humor, irony, and satire to criticize the absurdity and hypocrisy of modern society. The book has a fast-paced and engaging plot that keeps the reader's interest and suspense. The book also has a nonlinear structure that alternates between different perspectives, times, and places.

The symbolism and allegory

The book is full of symbolism and allegory that convey deeper meanings and messages. Some examples are:

  • The amphitheater: It represents Momo's home and sanctuary, where she can be herself and enjoy life. It also symbolizes the ancient tradition of storytelling and listening that connects people across cultures and generations.

  • The hourglass: It represents Momo's gift of listening, which allows her to understand people's hearts and minds. It also symbolizes the balance between past and future, memory and hope, that gives meaning to life.

  • The tortoise: It represents Momo's companion and guide, who helps her with her mission. It also symbolizes wisdom, patience, and perseverance that are necessary to overcome difficulties.

  • The Men in Grey: They represent the negative aspects of modern society, such as greed, conformity, exploitation, and manipulation. They also symbolize the loss of identity, individuality, and humanity that results from following their ideology.

The Timesaving Bank: It represents the false promise of happiness and success that is based on accumulating more time and money. It also symbolizes the exploitation and consumption of natural and human resources that leads to environmental and social problems.

  • Master Hora: He represents the positive aspect of time, which is a gift and a responsibility. He also symbolizes the harmony and order of the universe that is based on natural laws and cycles.

  • Nowhere House: It represents the place where time originates and where Momo learns the truth about time. It also symbolizes the realm of imagination and creativity that is beyond space and time.

The message and moral

The book conveys a message and a moral that are relevant and timeless. The message is that time is not something that can be saved, traded, or wasted, but something that can be lived, enjoyed, and shared. The moral is that one should not let oneself be influenced by external pressures and expectations, but follow one's own heart and dreams. The book also teaches that listening is a valuable skill and a form of love that can help oneself and others.


What makes Momo a classic?

Momo is a classic because it is a book that appeals to readers of all ages and backgrounds. It is a book that combines fantasy and reality, humor and drama, adventure and mystery. It is a book that tells a captivating story with memorable characters and settings. It is a book that explores universal themes and issues that are relevant to our modern society. It is a book that inspires and challenges readers to think critically and creatively about themselves and their world.

How does Momo relate to our modern society?

Momo relates to our modern society because it reflects some of the problems and dilemmas that we face today. We live in a fast-paced and competitive society that values productivity, efficiency, and speed over quality, meaning, and happiness. We are constantly bombarded by messages and advertisements that tell us what to do, what to buy, and what to think. We are often too busy, stressed, and distracted to pay attention to ourselves, our surroundings, and our relationships. We are at risk of losing our imagination, our joy, and our sense of community.

What can we learn from Momo?

We can learn from Momo many valuable lessons that can help us improve our lives and our society. We can learn to appreciate the value of time and use it wisely and joyfully. We can learn to listen to ourselves and others with attention and empathy. We can learn to follow our passions and dreams and express our creativity. We can learn to resist the influence of the Men in Grey and their Timesaving Bank. We can learn to cherish our friends and our community. We can learn to live in the present moment, being attentive to the small things in life.


  • Q: Who is the target audience of Momo? A: Momo is a book that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It is suitable for anyone who likes fantasy, adventure, humor, mystery, and philosophy.

  • Q: How long does it take to read Momo? A: Momo has about 250 pages in the English edition. It depends on your reading speed and interest, but it could take you anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to read it.

  • Q: Where can I buy or borrow Momo? A: You can buy or borrow Momo from various online or offline sources. You can check Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, or your local bookstore for buying options. You can also check your local library or online platforms such as OverDrive or Libby for borrowing options.

  • Q: Are there any other books or media related to Momo? A: Yes, there are several other books or media related to Momo. You can check out The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, which is another classic fantasy novel by the same author. You can also check out The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which is another classic children's book that explores similar themes as Momo. You can also check out the movie adaptation of Momo from 1986, directed by Johannes Schaaf; the musical adaptation of Momo from 1987, composed by Peter Märthesheimer; the radio play adaptation of Momo from 1995, produced by the BBC; or the video game adaptation of Momo from 2001, developed by Daedalic Entertainment.

  • Q: How can I contact the author or the publisher of Momo? A: You can contact the author or the publisher of Momo through their official websites or social media accounts. You can visit Michael Ende's website at or his Facebook page at You can visit McSweeney's Books' website at or their Twitter account at



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