mon 10/12/2018

The World Of Moominvalley, Brighton Festival review - a fascinating insight into the world of Tove Jansson | reviews, news & interviews

The World Of Moominvalley, Brighton Festival review - a fascinating insight into the world of Tove Jansson

The World Of Moominvalley, Brighton Festival review - a fascinating insight into the world of Tove Jansson

Author Philip Ardagh shares his extensive knowledge in an engaging and charismatic talk

It was no matter that journalist Daniel Hahn dropped out ill at the 11th hour of this "audience with" event. Author Philip Ardagh's deep knowledge and unflappable demeanour comfortably carried the hour-long talk about the inhabitants of Moominvalley. We heard detail of characters, themes, metaphors, changes from books to the TV cartoons and detail of Tove Jansson and her family, who wrote the original books.

We coursed through the journey of a boy who saved his book tokens to buy the novels of Jansson, his favourite author, and eventually came to write a 380-page book about the world of the Moomins that has been officially sanctioned by Moomin folk, and has seen Ardagh become friends with members of Jansson's family.

There was no shortage of fascinating facts – the silk monkey in Comet In Moominland that was changed to a kitten in a later edition or how Thingumy and Bob, who carried the fantastic secret of a beautiful red ruby in their suitcase, were representative of an early relationship Jansson had with a woman, that she had to keep secret.

Character intricacies were discussed with the audience – Moominpappa, a big kid who gets melancholy sometimes but who watches over his family in a magic crystal ball; Moominmamma, the nurturing, early feminist role model who looks after everyone but paints herself a rose mural to disappear into when she needs some "me time"; Moomintroll, the everyman; the gloomy Groke who kills off the fire and light in winter, in an attempt to keep warm herself. There's even a list of the top 10 fears of a Filijonk and a mapped-out Moomin family tree.

While billed as an event for Moomin fans young and old, this was more of a nostalgic jaunt for the older generations – there wasn't an awful lot to keep the younger members of the crowd engaged. But for those excited by the differences between a Snork and a Moomin, why the Hemulens wear dresses or why the Ancestors live behind the stove in people's houses, this was a fascinating talk – and a book to add to my Amazon wishlist.

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