Thursday, May 06, 2010

why i love tove jansson (part one of many, i am sure)

waterfalls of dry grass & moss on slate, patricia lake, jasper, march 2010

I can't believe I've never written about her in this blog before, because I've been in love with her writing for at least a year now... but Tove Jansson is incredible, & I'd like to attempt to explain why. I could write a lot, I think, about her brilliant Moomins*, which basically are existentialist novels for children, or analyse exactly why I want to be just like Grandmother in The Summer Book when I am old... but I'd rather let her words simply be, because that is what they do. They are simple & draw you into their truths, small little truths that suddenly sprawl open, refreshingly & widely & sometimes painfully, but they leave you with such a calm, such a reassurance, because this is what is & you have to be tough & that is beautiful in & of itself.
So I imagine I'll be returning to her words in the next while, because they are giving me a lot of comfort at the moment, but for now, an excerpt, from my favourite Moomin book (thus far), Moominland Midwinter:
On the other side of the lamp, someone had dug herself a cosy hole, someone who lay looking up at the serene winter sky and whistling very softly to herself.
"What song is that?" asked Moomintroll.
"It's a song of myself," someone answered from the pit. "A song of Too-ticky who built a snow lantern, but the refrain is about wholly other things."
"I see," Moomintroll said and seated himself in the snow.
"No, you don't," replied Too-ticky genially and rose up enough to show her red and white sweater. "Because the refrain is about the things that one can't understand. I'm thinking about the aurora borealis. You can't tell if it really does exist or if it just looks like existing. All things are so very uncertain, and that's exactly what makes me feel reassured".
*If you grew up without Moomins in your life, you should probably remedy that & meet them, & go find the books immediately. Then find someone with whom you might enjoy reading them aloud, it's the best way. & don't bother watching the animated shows. They are a disappointment & are generally devoid of all philosophy & charm.