Sunday, 7 September 2008

More Tove

I've talked before about Tove Jansson, whose wonderful Moomin novels were a highlight of my childhood, and whose Moomin comic strips I'm now enjoying. When I was old enought to have my own credit card, I began (at what seemed to a student to be a great expense) tracking down those of her adult works that had been translated into English, especially The Summer Book, which is pretty much a perfect little novel, and Sun City.

A few years ago, Sort Of Books in Britain began republishing her adult work, beginning with The Summer Book and following it up with A Winter Book, which is a collection of short stories, and the novella/story collection Fair Play. They are all, of course, great. Esther Freud and Ali Smith have written introductions, available online, which ought to give you a good idea of why the books are worth your time.





Now, nice as those covers are, they don't use Tove's own artwork. For that, we turn to NYRB, who have just published an edition of The Summer Book that looks like this:



This uses Tove's own original cover art for the book:



She also did another cover, used on this Hutchinson edition from 1972.



The Summer Book is about a summer which a young girl, her father and her grandmother spend together on a small island in the Gulf of Finland. It's told from the girl' point of view. Tove had a look at the other end of life with Sun City, about the residents of a Florida retirement community. Not yet republished this century in English, the original cover, with Tove's artwork, looked like this.



Then there is the autobiographical Sculptor's Daughter, much of which is available in the two Sort Of collections. Tove's original cover for that is very nice indeed:



One book I have not been able to track down in English is The Listeners. The cover very much makes me want to read it:



Finally, here's a bonus illustration from a set Tove Jansson did for Alice in Wonderland.




Many of these covers came from The Moomin Trove, an excellent resource for finding out more about the various Jansson books. Lots of nice cover scans are to be found there.

6 comments:

sarajkramer said...

My first reaction to the Jansson-drawn cover of Sun City was to laugh at its psychedelic flavor. But on looking at it again, I realize that it's perfect (which is what you would expect, of course), even the large head of Christ is appropriate. So much better than the anodyne US jacket—with a sunset and rocking-chair filled verandah.

sarajkramer said...

My first reaction to the Jansson-drawn cover of Sun City was to laugh at its psychedelic flavor. But on looking at it again, I realize that it's perfect (which is what you would expect, of course), even the large head of Christ is appropriate. So much better than the anodyne US jacket—with a sunset and rocking-chair filled verandah.

JRSM said...

Yes, it's funny but it is very appropriate. unfortunately the sunset/verandah edition is the one I have. Even worse, the old Patheon edition of 'The Summer Book' I have has NO cover illustration, just the type. A wasted opportunity.

barnaby said...

Moomins. My childhood also. In fact I used to think my first girlfriend looked like the Snork Maiden. She probably wouldn't have been flattered.
Ever read the Fattypuffs and the Thinnifers?
Where do you find all the GOOD scans of so many book jackets? Currently searching for Vintage International 1989 Camus - The Stranger, which I need to compliment my original pic for a bookjacket show. Cannot find a decent scan anywhere. Even the designer Marc Cohen in NYC doesn't have one ! I guess it was an odd time. The changeover to computer graphics.

JRSM said...

Hey, Barnaby: Yes, the Snork Maiden--I may have had a crush on her when I was five or so. I've got a decent-ish scan of that edition of 'The Stranger' I could send you if you let me know an email address. I nicked it from Amazon's "Search Inside" database. Other pics I get from there, or from ABE, or from my own collection, or wherever else I can find them.

barnaby said...

I'd love to at least see the Amazon scan of L'Etranger. I finally managed to get an acceptable one from a friend at Random House. However still not perfect. Have you seen then new Camus series? Wow. Whoever she is she deserves a box of chocolates.
Makes my photo look terribly unsophisticated - and it was one of my favorite "photo illustrations" ! Still is. But.....perhaps not in the context of that particular design.
My E:
barnabyhallphoto@yahoo.com

Am still searching for Mr Marber.
My cousin Lucia, Germano Facetti's daughter, probably knows where he is but she's holed up in N. Italy dealing with the archives and the imposing spirit of her father. Apparently guests have "seen","heard" and "experienced" disquieting things in the house. There is unrest. Hmm. Doesn't surprise me !