News: UK film adaptation of Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book
The BAFTA-winning English film director Marc Munden’s film adaptation of the beloved classic, The Summer Book by Tove Jansson is produced by Kevin Loader’s Free Range Films. Published in 1972, The Summer Book is written in a clear, unsentimental style, full of brusque humour, and wisdom. The book tells the story of the child named Sophia, her father and grandmother who spend their summers on a small island in the Gulf of Finland. Central to the friendship between the old woman and the very small girl are their reflections on life and death. The English-language film, starring Julie Walters, is hoped to be shot in Finland in 2019. The book, published in English by Sort Of Books, is available to buy from this website.
- Magnus Englund
The wonderful Polish Moomins
We have a controversial confession to make; we prefer the Polish Moomin TV series from the 1970s (made 1977 to 1982) to the Japanese 1990s TV production. It might have been made on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, but it was pretty cool! Originally named Opowiadania Muminków, it was a stop motion production made by Se-Mar-For and Jupiter Film for Polish, Austrian and German television. The series was later sold to other countries, including Britain. The series has been criticised for being scary in places for young audiences, but we don't mind this now, watching as adults. It is, in contrast to the 1990s Japanese TV series, widely believed to be the more faithful TV adaptation of Tove Jansson's stories, and much closer to her vision. Tove herself had a great deal of involvement during the production. Each script was translated from Polish into Swedish and sent to Tove and her brother Lars Jansson, who, if they felt that anything needed to be changed, corrected the script, expanding or rewriting it; afterwards, the scripts were sent back and only then did production of the particular episode begin. The original episodes have now been technically cleaned up, recut into full feature film episodes, and had new voiceovers by current actors added. You can buy the DVD's on Amazon. Until the new Moominvalley TV series starts in 2019, we think this remains the best Moomin viewing to be had.
- Magnus Englund
Tove and the Hobbit
During her career, Tove Jansson also illustrated books written by other prestigious authors. The two most important of these were illustrated in the 1960s, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Tove also illustrated Carroll’s book The Hunting of the Snark.
Unique opportunities to illustrate other’s books were interesting projects for Tove, and the illustrations were stunning and personal like Tove’s illustrations always were. However, they did not receive such a great reception at the time of publication; readers already had their own images in their minds of these classics. This means that good quality first editions of these books are now both rare and very valuable.
Tove illustrated both the Swedish and Finnish editions of J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic book The Hobbit. The first edition of the Swedish Bilbo – en hobbits äventyr was published in 1962 and the second in 1994. The first Finnish translation in 1973 was named Lohikäärmevuori while the next two editions in 2003 and 2011 were named Hobitti eli Sinne ja takaisin (after the original English language title; The Hobbit, or There and Back Again).
The Swedish translation of Alice i underlandet which Tove had illustrated was published in 1966 and again in 1983. The same illustrations also appeared in the Finnish edition Liisan seikkailut ihmemaassa in 1983. The American edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1977, the English edition in 2011 and the Norwegian edition Alice i Eventyrland in 2013.
By popular demand, Moomin Shop Camden now sells The Hobbit illustrated by Tove Jansson in a Finnish language hardback edition published by WSOY. We also sell the English language hardback editions of Alice In Wonderland and The Hunting Of The Snark, illustrated by Tove Jansson and published by Tate.
- Magnus Englund
Tove's writing for adults
In her fifties, Tove Jansson turned her attention to writing for adults, producing a dozen novels and story collections, including the classic, bestselling The Summer Book. This was reissued in English in 2003 by Sort Of Books and has since sold more than 100,000 copies only in Britain. The Guardian said in its review: 'Jansson's brilliance is to create a narrative that seems, at least, to have no forward motion, to exist in lit moments, gleaming dark moments, like lights on a string, each chapter its own beautifully constructed, random-seeming, complete story. Her writing is all magical deception, her sentences simple and loaded; the novel reads like looking through clear water and seeing, suddenly, the depth'.
Sort Of Books followed the publication of The Summer Book with eight further Tove Jansson books, translated into English for the first time: Travelling Light, The True Deceiver, Fair Play, The Sculptor’s Daughter, Art in Nature, The Listener, Letters from Klara and a selection of stories, The Winter Book. They are all available to buy at Moomin Shop Camden and on this website.
- Magnus Englund