marshtide: (Too-ticki)
Another image-heavy post, I'm afraid! This became some kind of odd scrapbook business. & Tove Jansson is essentially one of our house-gods, so there was no chance I was ever going to keep this brief.

Written for [personal profile] ar's She's Kind of a Big Deal: Women Worth Knowing About!


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jansson_tove
She's Kind of a Big Deal: Tove Jansson
[Photo: a woman sits at a cluttered desk. She's holding a cigarette and looking at the camera.]


Who she was: Tove Jansson was born in Helsinki in 1914 to parents who were both artists. Her father was a Finland-Swedish sculptor (that is to say, a part of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland) and her mother was a Swedish illustrator.

Read more... )


What she did: Tove was both an artist and a writer, although she's mostly remembered for her Moomin books, which are by this time cultural icons. They're often reported to be about little white trolls who have harmless adventures and are very sweet. This is questionable.

Read more... )


Ways to appreciate her:

Books

Many of Tove Jansson's books are translated to English (and plenty of other languages). All of the Moomin story books are currently in print in the US and the UK, and the three picture books she did in the Moomin world are also in print in the UK, although possibly not the US.

A tiny publishing company called Sort Of Books is releasing her other books right now in the UK, and I gather a buch of them have been re-released in the US at the same time, though I'm not sure exactly which are available there. They've put out new editions of or translated for the first time:

The Summer Book (an old woman and her granddaughter spend a summer on an island together)
A Winter Book (a collection of short stories drawn from various different collections)
Fair Play (my favourite - a depiction of two women growing old together, living and working and travelling. a love story. kind of.)
The True Deceiver (a very tense, terrifying book, which takes place in a little village which is completely snowbound for the winter. A young woman who is seen by the village as an outsider moves into the home of an elderly artist on the edge of town. Full of deception and manipulation - but who is manipulating who?)
Travelling Light (Collection of short stories)

I'm kind of hoping that they'll pick out Sculptor's Daughter for release, which is one of her close-to-autobiographical books about her childhood. It has been published in English, but has been out of print for years; I did manage to find a copy in my local library when I lived in the UK, though!


Art

To see her artwork you need to go to Finland, which isn't something I've managed yet myself! (Even though it's just across the water.) The Tampere Art Museum has a collection of her works.


Associated reading: English

There's very little available in English when it comes to academic texts about Tove Jansson's work, biography, or anything else really.

But here's the one that does exist:

Tove Jansson Rediscovered, edited by Kate McLoughlin and Malin Lindström Brock, published 2007 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, is a collection of papers about many different aspects of Tove Jansson's life and work. The papers aren't of even quality, but many of them are brilliant. The essays cover disciplines from queer studies to art history and beyond.


Associated reading: Swedish

In Swedish there are, conversely, about a million books about Tove Jansson's life and work.

My personal favourites are the books by Boel Westin:

Tove Jansson: ord, bild, liv, published in 2007 by Schildts, is an extensive biography, well-written and full of great information and pictures.

Familjen i dalen: Tove Janssons muminvärld, published in 1988 by Bonnier, is an analysis of Tove's Mumin books.


Links: English

- A virtual gallery with information, art and photographs relating to Tove Jansson

- Information put together in connection with a Moomin 65th anniversary exhibition

- A collection of Tove Jansson's illustrations


tovefotografi008
[Image: A short-haired Tove Jansson looks off to one side of the photographer. She's holding her glasses, one arm of them against her mouth.]
marshtide: (Default)
Things are still shifting around in my head. Settling in new shapes.

Books:

Anteckningar från en ö (Notes from an island) by Tove Jansson and Tuulikki Pietilä. Fairly miscellaneous assortment of notes on and thoughts about their summer home out on a tiny island, written by Tove and illustrated by Tuulikki. I really loved it, though obviously it's one for people who already have some investment in the whole thing!

Now reading: Lyssnerskan by Tove Jansson, Simone och jag by Åsa Moberg.

Manga:

Solanin by Asano Inio is manga which is about dissatisfied university graduates trying to get their lives together and figure out what they want. I rather enjoyed it, and it gave me a pretty good kick of emotional response, both good and bad, so I'll call that a success. (I've read a few manga which are basically aiming for realism lately, but I can't even remember the names of the others. Yes, that has prompted me to finally begin listing manga I read on librarything as well.) It's one solid volume, pretty big but easy to read. I read it in an afternoon and then I felt melancholy. But maybe that was partly November's fault.

Paradise Kiss by Yazawa Ai (as in Nana) didn't have characters I really fell for in the way I fell for Nana, but the manga as a whole really worked for me. Somehow. I'm not absolutely clear on how, but I suspect it's that as melodramatic as Yazawa Ai can be there's something in there which feels basically believable to me in the way people related to each other (and struggle to relate to each other).

Flower of Life by Yoshinaga Fumi has a similar kind of honesty coupled with absolute ridiculousness. It also delights in presenting the reader with a stereotype and then going BUT WAIT! and it did it in a way that surprised me and cracked me up. The whole thing cracked me up. A lot. One of the things I really do appreciate Yoshinaga Fumi for is her ability to tackle fucked up ideas while fully recognising precisely how fucked up they are. It appeals to me, in a "yes, sometimes people really do do stupid things" kind of way.

To Terra by Takemiya Keiko I'd read a whole chunk of before but lost track of somewhere in moving countries, so I picked it up from the beginning again and read it all in one go. I think this one is pretty much brilliant, category-defying and a giant metaphor for homosexaulity well put together.

Banana Fish is stupid. But kind of hypnotic. In a really, really 80s way.

I'm pretty sure I've got more but I should actually go and have breakfast now.

(We have a day off school for teacher training. And I've had a rather ill and sleep deprived weekend. I totally get to lie in bed being lazy. Right? ...no?)

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