?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Concerning Moomins - click opera — LiveJournal
February 2010
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 10:44 am
Concerning Moomins

Browsing at a bookshop in Birmingham airport at the end of my last trip to Britain, I cast a skeptical eye along the shelves of ghostwritten TV memoirs, expecting to find little of interest. Suddenly A Winter Book, Selected Stories of Tove Jansson, caught my eye. Now this was of interest. Not only had I been brought up on the Finnish childrens' writer's Moomin tales, but this collection of her lesser-known adult work was introduced by Ali Smith, with whom I'd been smitten at university (she's since gone on to be one of Britain's best-known novelists). In fact, in one poem young Nick wrote for young Ali (we were both in the creative writing group, but I hadn't yet sussed that she was gay) I compared her frostiness to that of the Groke, another Moominland character.



Moomins are yet another of the thousand-and-one things I agree with the Japanese about the brilliance of, and yet another example (we saw it the other day in the way Helsinki kids are so Tokyo-oriented in their dress sense) of the weird affinities between the Finns and the Japanese. Ali's foreword to the short stories of Tove Jansson (also herself gay; she spent her life with a woman artist called Tuulikka Pietilä) begins like this:

"How old must you be to write a story?" a young Japanese fan wrote and asked her heroine, the Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson. Jansson, at this point, was in her seventies and world-famous as the creator and illustrator of the Moomins, the extended family of big-nosed philosophising creatures (and their various neighbours, including a tiny anarchist no bigger than a thumbnail) who, simply by mildness and geniality, survive the terrible upheavals of their often topsy-turvy life in a beautiful Scandinavian setting of mountains, forests, seas and valleys."



I'm not sure exactly what creates the Japanese-Moomin affinity, though it is probably tied up with the mildness and geniality Ali mentions. You can see the Moomintroll in his simply-furnished house (no doubt there's a sauna nearby), or Jansson in hers for that matter (the wooden shed you see above was a country cottage; her Helsinki flat is now a museum) as Japanese people, somehow. You're certainly more likely to see images of Moomins in contemporary Japanese advertising than anywhere else, although a somewhat compromised Moomin family appeared worldwide in a TV animation in the 70s. They were also ripped off, some would say, by Barbapapa (seen here hilariously shearing his own son like a sheep).

I'm rather pleased to find myself, today, transformed into a folk character of sorts. Someone called Eva, in Calgary, Canada, has baked a shortbread homage "to her favourite one-eyed, apron-wearing Scottish folksinger. She maintains that those are not nipples; those are buttons". I hope I tasted good, anyway; I always imagined Moomins would taste like marshmallow.

28CommentReply

with_fun
with_fun
with a fan
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 10:14 am (UTC)

:)


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 10:34 am (UTC)

I'm guessing that it's the tweeness of the Moomins that appeal to the Japanese, but what I remember from reading the books as a kid is their deep undertow of sadness.


ReplyThread
jokersama
jokersama
parakeet of the baskervilles
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 01:27 pm (UTC)

You know, that's exactly what I remember too! Even now the first thing I think of is the immense feeling of loneliness you got from books, where a) the world is ending b) you're stranded on an island in the Atlantic, isolated from your family, or c) you're the only one awake in an enormous empty house all winter. There never was anything that Moomintroll *couldn't* handle by being serene and accepting, but the world was never really presented as a happy or warm place.


ReplyThread Parent
annabella1704
Anna
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)

By a strange coincidence I found this photo of a Moscow shop window posted by a friend of mine 5 minutes before your Moomin post.



I should say that in Russia the Moomin stories were made into a great animation series in the 80ies. It was essential for a couple of Soviet kids generations, although today's kids top of mind association of the Moomin Troll word is the name of a Russian pop band, and only the second thought is the original characters.

The anonymous commentor was right about the inner sadness of the story - just look in that Moomin's eyes.


ReplyThread
qscrisp
qscrisp
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)

Another affinity between the Japanese and the Finnish is linguistic. For some bizarre reason, Finnish is one of the very few languages on Earth that resembles Japanese.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC)

what?


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)

Yes, I'd heard this too.


ReplyThread Parent
akabe
akabe
alin huma
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 04:04 pm (UTC)

i asked a guy from finland who speaks japanese AND is into linguistics about this last week and he said it's purely academic, no actual resemblance whatsoever. genghis khan or attila the hun gets over-credited for this.
the idea should be fino-ugrics are related to mongolian which is related to korean which is related to japanese but all links get lost even between finnish and hungarian.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 01:32 pm (UTC)

Any true Momus fan would know that the eye patch is on the right eye.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 01:39 pm (UTC)

When I was 3 or 4, I used to be terrified of the Groak.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC)

I'm bored of Japan... everyone from the West has always freaked out about it like you do for as long as I can remember. Fantasizing about foreign places in unrealistic, idealistic ways is just another way of saying: I'm tired of life. I guess that's natural, though.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC)

Fantasizing about foreign places in unrealistic, idealistic ways is just another way of saying: I'm tired of life.

No, failing to fantasize about foreign places in unrealistic, idealistic ways is just another way of saying "I'm tired of life".


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC)

♥ 4 u!


ReplyThread Parent
dubow_org
dubow_org
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 02:43 pm (UTC)

I adore Moomins and am so happy to see it appearing here! When I first saw the Blair Witch movie I immediately thought of the Groke. Which is your favourite character?


ReplyThread
alvaroceb
alvaroceb
alvaroceb
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC)

I recently wondered why did I enjoy reading "La familia Mumin" —the spanish translation— so much, back in the 80s. I think that it has something to do with the rupture of automatizations they cause: it was simply crazy, that old Moomin with his botanical hobby, the laconic Manrico or Panrico blowing his harmonica and defying Linneo's taxonomy of species. And so on. The plot, but also the nature descriptions and drawings (engravings?) enchanted the imagination of the spanish child I used to be.
And coming to the analogy with Japan: I feel quite the same cultural and geographical distance everytime I see Miyazaki's films. Today I'm still fond of nonsense-poetry and eccentric stories, thought I don't like Miyazaki very much, maybe for other reasons (excess of sentimentalism for instance. For me the functional similarity between Moomins and Japan is that they're both exotic, almost unintelligible.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 03:23 pm (UTC)

Sadly the Japanese voice of one of the Moomins, Kyoko Kishida, just died this week.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
groke too soon

dear Nick (Moomus)
Hello. Hope you're well.
It's a great book. It was a real delight to put together. The good news is that Sort Of Books here in the UK are now hoping to publish (and republish) all of Jansson's writing for adults over the next few years, which is a breakthrough, since until now only three - Summer Book, Sculptor's Daughter and Sun City - had been translated into English. (I've just done an introduction for a very beautiful and gentle novel/story collection from 1979, called Fair Play, out next year.)
(And I know we never see ourselves as others see us, but personally i aspire to Snuffkin.)
yours with love
Grokey xx


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC)
Re: groke too soon

Is that you Ali? Yay!

I'm just reading "The Accidental" right now, terrific stuff.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC)

Don't the red lines haphazardly sprinkled over your baked torso very much resemble a certain Moomin character? Coincidence? I think not!


ReplyThread
tailchaser
tailchaser
das weiner klitten
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)

my mom used to read the moominland books to me when i was a kid. i still have them on my bookshelf of my favorite childrens books. i keep meaning to reread them...especially since i don't remember alot of the stories....just the incredible feeling i had frm them when they were read to me. and yes...alot of it was filled with a certain sadness and longing.
i have been overjoyed with finding all of the wonderful japanese toys and figures of the moomins over the past few years, sadly not many of my friends know them at all. so it's like this fantastic little secret that delights me and confuses them.

i think i need to find myself a copy of the winter book.

thank you for this post...


ReplyThread
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)

Oh, I really grew up with the tv animation of the moomins and I still remember the theme song a bit.

Here is a german version.


ReplyThread
auto_nalle
auto_nalle
auto_nalle
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)

i love the moomins! owh-i'm so happy about this post!
the moomin books are something of a bible to me and tove jansson is a god, or maybe moomin mama. so typical of a finnish girl-lover-girl really, but whatever.
tove is the one dead person i'm most in love with.
tales from moominvalley is a favourite book.
<3
i posted this on my journal a while back,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F45bt9r3Vw0&eurl=
it's felt moomins with a british accent.
<3


ReplyThread
autoscopy
autoscopy
more news from nowhere
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 10:57 pm (UTC)

Haha! I'm famous!


ReplyThread
microworlds
microworlds
Sparkachu Maelworth
Thu, Dec. 21st, 2006 11:52 pm (UTC)

I'd like to admit that I, too have immortalized you in a creative way. Although it's not as great as Eva's!
Momus, as a Halloween pumpkin

Unfortunately you turned out black because you didn't look as good orange. I painted it during a church activity (dear me, I don't ever want to go to one again) and the people surrounding me kept asking if I was painting a pirate. I told them it was Momus, and they were ultimately confused. I hope that one day these people will understand my appreciation for you.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Fri, Dec. 22nd, 2006 02:40 am (UTC)

How lovely to have to visit and steal our cookie picture, Momus. Okay, as it is a representation of you, you are certainly entitled and welcome to it.

You'll be happy to know that the Momus cookie has not yet been devoured. We're placing bets to see if he makes it through Christmas.

bad tempered zombie


ReplyThread
autokrater
autokrater
Metallic Lampshade
Fri, Dec. 22nd, 2006 06:41 am (UTC)

i haven't read one of your posts in sooo long!
i have been very out of touch with my friend's page
this is a good re-introduction for me
into your journallll
i have been wishing to fall asleep in my room
and awake in moominland for a few years now


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Dec. 22nd, 2006 08:20 am (UTC)

Likewise, I hadn't seen your page for a while, but it's really remarkable, I just spent an hour reading it and following all the links to your videos, your drawing site (hosted by e*rock) etc. You manage to turn turmoil into kern oil.


ReplyThread Parent
arwyn
arwyn
Arwyn
Fri, Dec. 22nd, 2006 07:34 am (UTC)

All of Tove Jansson's books are absolutely delightful. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that "The Fillyjonk Who Believed in Disasters" (from the book Tales from Moominvalley) is my all-time favourite story. I am always trying to get more people to love the Moomins as much as I do! And here you are, posting in your widely-read pop blog about them! HURRAH! UP WITH MOOMINS!


ReplyThread