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Have you ever wondered what is the most popular Finnish export good? You’ll probably say “wood” — the statistical office and the author of this text agrees. I’ll come back to this in my future column. (Don’t worry, it won’t be boring one full of unnecessary data, figures and pie charts.)
But in truth, the Moomins are the most common Finnish export goods and don’t look at me like that, I know what I’m saying.
If you are from Finland, you probably aren’t aware of how often tourists can find a Moomin while visiting your country. (Please notice and appreciate that I didn’t use the phrase “the thing that surprised me the most during my stay in Finland” — that was tough!) Stuffed toys at a petrol station, posters in a shop, maps to buy in a book store . . . . You are probably used to all of this, maybe it’s like Winnie the Pooh for the British – part of the legacy.
[alert type=white ] In the middle of the drawing-room stood the Fillyjonk herself, dazed and wild in her fluttering skirt, thinking confusedly: this is it. Now comes the end. At last. Now I don’t have to wait any more. The Fillyjonk could hear nothing but the gale and the rattle of loosening roof-tiles. If I were to go up to the attic the roof would blow off, she thought. And if I go down in the cellar the whole house comes down over me. It’s going to do it anyway.[/alert]
It so happens that in Poland Tove Jansson’s books are the standard set of texts for children in primary school. Every single one gets to know the history of Moominvalley, gets nervous by Snorkmaiden’s selfish behavior and Sniff’s cowardice, stays afraid of the Groke and Hattifatteners, doesn’t understand Too-Ticky and admires Little My’s arrogant attitude. One of my colleagues said to me once that her untouchable ideal of a man is the mysterious and serious Snufkin. Another version of Austen’s Mr Darcy in literature? Apparently.
But I am completely convinced, that the Moomins isn’t a fairy tale for children. It’s for adolescents. It’s something like Saint Exupery’s “The Little Prince,” but not so depressing. The Moomins include so much hidden content that I simply don’t know where to start when someone asks me, “Why should I read it?”
[alert type=white ]She got hold of a china kitten and pressed it hard in her paw. Then a window blew open and shattered its pane in small fragments over the floor. A gust of rain spattered the mahogany furniture, and the stately plaster Hemulen threw himself from his pedestal and went to pieces.[/alert]
Their worlds are complicated, storied allegories full of symbols, details and referrers, which can be read and understood only by the adults and mature persons. It’s pure wisdom seasoned with a pinch of psychedelia.
Let’s go to the nearest book shop and give Moomins a second chance. If you don’t believe me — please read a story “The Fillyjonk Who Believed in Disasters.”
After that, I’m sure you will.
[alert type=white ]With a sickening crash her great chandelier fell to the floor. It had belonged to her maternal uncle. All around her the Fillyjonk heard her belongings cry and creak. Then she caught a flash of her own pale snout in a fragment of a mirror, and without any further thought she rushed up to the window and jumped out. Source: An excerpt from “Tales from Moominvalley: The Fillyjonk Who Believed in Disasters” by Tove Jansson[/alert]