|c1962; trans by Thomas Warburton|
It features a range of characters, all experiencing the kind of longings that Jansson draws so well. From Moominpappa going off with the Hattifatteners in The Secret of the Hattifatteners, to Snufkin being interrupted in his Spring-time song making by a little forest Creep who just wants a name of his own in The Spring Tune, to an anxious Fillyjonk who survives imaginary disasters daily in The Fillyjonk who Believed in Disasters, characters are looking for meaning. And they are often forced, in a way, to look after one another even if they hadn't planned on it in the first place.
There is a lot of melancholy and a search for meaning in much of this book. But there is also dry wit, and humour -- there is Little My dominating everyone in A Tale of Horror, and the Moomins experiencing (and trying to comprehend) their first Christmas when they unexpectedly awaken from their hibernation in The Fir Tree. The contrast between what the characters know and what the reader knows in these stories results in much amusement.
The last story, The Invisible Child, was a straightforward story of a little girl who becomes invisible due to neglect and is restored to fully visible by the kindness and attention of the Moomins after she's dropped off at their house by Too Ticky. Once she's fully a visible and lively child again, she gives Little My a run for her sarcastic money. I really enjoyed this one for its satisfactory completeness, no loose ends or aching sadness here. And of course I do love anything with Little My in it!
There are a couple of other stories in the book, also worth reading, with many of the same themes. One features Moomintroll himself, another a neighbouring Hemulen. Nearly everyone gets a look in here.
All in all, this is a quite philosophical look at many states of being, through the lens of Moominvalley characters. These are complex and thoughtful stories that appeal on many levels, so that children and adults can both read and engage with them in their own ways. Jansson is rather a genius in this way, and this collection is striking.
Next up, the conclusion to my Moomin adventures.