Happy Friday! Here is an 80s-tastic Japanese poster advertising Tove Jansson’s Moomins.
(Our original collection of Tove Jansson stories, The Woman Who Borrowed Memories, is out in just over a month).
Notes from NYRB Classics
The Rabbit House -
Have you read The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson? I think I read it last winter. Here’s an illustration of the cunning Katri and her yellow-eyed, wild nameless dog, (and the rabbit house too of course).
Art inspired by The True Deceiver. Should we be disappointed or relieved that we can’t see Katri Kling’s calculating yellow eyes?
There are a lot of exciting things going on all around the world to celebrate the 100th anniversary year of Tove Jansson’s birth. For a full calendar of events, exhibitions, and readings, visit the official Tove 100 website right here. To help you scratch the surface, here are a few current and upcoming events:
Happy Tove 100 everyone!
If you’re really in the mood to celebrate Tove Jansson’s 100th birthday, you might check out one or all of the many videos available online about Jansson’s life and work. Above, the entire BBC Documentary, Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson, which goes into great detail about Jansson’s childhood, her family, her life in Helsinki and rural Finland, her loves, the Moomins, and her novels (particularly The Summer Book, starting around the 51:00 mark).
Above, a lovely little film tour (no narration) around the tiny island of Klovharun, where Jansson and her partner Tuulikki Pietilä built a house (no electricity!) to live and work in during the summers.
The office favorite around here, however, has to be this short video of Jansson drawing a couple of Moomins without ever letting go of her cigarette. She was a pro.
It’s really a book about work and love, and Tove Jansson, from the time that she was quite young, took as her personal motto ‘Labora et Amare’: work and love.
—Thomas Teal, translator of Fair Play, interviewed on the Leonard Lopate Show, 2011
Listen to the rest of Leonard Lopate’s interview with Thomas Teal and Sophia Jansson, Tove Jansson’s niece here.
Photo above: Tuulikki Pietilä, Tove Jansson and Signe Hammarsten-Jansson in 1958, photographer unknown.
This summer, the ICA in London is celebrating 100 years of Tove Jansson with the exhibit Tove Jansson: Tales from the Nordic Archipelago. The photos above are from the show, and the captions are as follows:
Tove at her studio in Helsinki, 1990
Per Olov Jansson
Tove’s first cottage, Sandskår, Pellinge, 1943
Per Olov Jansson
Tove on rocky stones, 1950s
Per Olov Jansson
Tove working with wood, 1950s
All images courtesy the Finnish Institute in London.
Today is the 100th anniversary of Moomin-creator and NYRB Classics author Tove Jansson’s birth. Join us in wishing Jansson a happy birthday (or, “Hyvää syntymäpäivää” in Finnish) with a week-long celebration on the blog.
Our new collection of Jansson’s short stories (none before available in the US), The Woman Who Borrowed Memories, with an introduction by Lauren Groff, comes out this fall.
NYRB Classics that will take you to the sea—or at least to the pool—this weekend:
A High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes
In the words of one reviewer, this is a “tiny, crazy” novel about kids on a pirate ship.
Afloat, by Guy de Maupassant
A logbook kept by Guy de Maupassant while cruising the French Mediterranean coast that’s also a passionate argument against war.
The Wine-Dark Sea, by Leonardo Sciascia
Spend a little time on the Sicilian coast with Sciascia’s tormented wives, romantic commuters, and accidentally murdered Cardinals.
The Professor and the Siren, by Giuseppe di Tomasi Lampedusa
In this slim story collection, Lampedusa sends a young professor on a swim in the Mediterranean that changes his life—mainly his love life—forever.
The Long Ships, by Frans G. Bengtsson
Vikings! Specifically, Red Orm the Viking—the best Viking that never was.
Agostino, by Alberto Moravia
Get your Oedipal complex and your tan on with Moravia’s confused young hero, his mother, and some tough Tuscan seasiders.
A Way of Life, Like Any Other, by Darcy O’Brien
The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson
In the summer, Finns take to tiny islands in the Gulf of Finland to enjoy the season—and now you can, too, with Jansson’s dreamy novel.
In Hazard, by Richard Hughes
If chilling out isn’t your thing, board the overloaded merchant ship, the Archimedes: it’s most definitely heading off course and into danger.
FALL PREVIEW—PART I
Here’s a quick rundown of what NYRB (including the Classics, Children’s Collection, and non-Classics imprints) has coming out in upcoming months. We’ll post the second half of the season’s list on Friday, so stay tuned!:
The Burning of the World: A Memoir of 1914, by Béla Zombory-Moldován, a new translation from the Hungarian by Peter Zombory-Moldovan
Recently discovered among private papers and published here for the first time in any language, this extraordinary reminiscence by a young artist, drafted into the bloody combat of the First World War, is a deeply moving addition to the literature of the terrible conflict that defined the shape of the twentieth century.
Augustus by John Williams, introduction by Daniel Mendelsohn
Williams’s biographical treatment of the founder of the Roman Empire won him the National Book Award and reveals him to be as transformative a writer of historical novels as he is of westerns (in Butcher’s Crossing) and the campus drama (in Stoner).
Totempole by Sanford Friedman, introduction by Peter Cameron
Friedman’s psychologically acute and empathetic masterpiece traces the coming-of-age—from two to twenty-two—of a boy growing up on the Lower East Side of New York. “Vivid and utterly convincing…The truth of Mr. Friedman’s book is not the truth of autobiography, but the truth-making that the best fiction is.”—James Dickey
Conversations with Beethoven by Sanford Friedman, introduction by Richard Howard
Deaf but still able to converse, Beethoven “heard” those around him by means of conversation books in which friends and family jotted down communications. This daring novel, featuring a Dickensian cast, is a fictional reconstruction of these books. In it we see the ageing composer struggling with his art, fighting illness, and perpetually worried about the fate of his wayward ward and nephew, Karl.
The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill, illustrated by Ronni Solbert
The 50th Anniversary Edition of a perennial classic that recounts the battle between supporters of New York City’s scrappy pushcarts and the monstrous, smoke-belching trucks that threaten to overtake its streets. “Merrill’s story, full of unexpected reversals and understated witticisms, feels exceptionally modern.”—Adam Mansbach, NPR
Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb, introduction by Julie Orringer, a new translation from the Hungarian by Len Rix
“A devastatingly intelligent novel of love, society and metaphysics in a mid-1930s Europe…As a study of erotic caprice, Journey by Moonlight is brilliant, but it is so much more than just a romp…This is a delightfully clever and enchanting novel, always entertaining and full of memorable aphorisms.”—Toby Lichtig, The Times Literary Supplement
Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film, and the Shadows of War by Ian Buruma
Many of the filmmakers and artists Ian Buruma covers in his new collection, which focuses on the themes of war, film, and the visual arts, come from Germany and Japan and deal with World War II. What unifies the book is less the question of war itself than the way people deal with violence and cruelty, in the arts and in life.
Krabat and the Sorcerer’s Mill by Otfried Preussler, translated from the German by Anthea Bell
Krabat, a 12-year-old beggar boy, is summoned in a dream to a mysterious mill, where he finds himself in the company of eleven other boys, all apprenticed to a sinister Master who will teach them the finer points of black magic—whether they want to learn them or not. Preussler’s incantatory story of the power of friendship to challenge evil has been casting a spell on readers of all ages since first published in 1971.
On the Abolition of All Political Parties by Simone Weil, a new translation from the French and with an introduction by Simon Leys, with an essay by Czeslaw Milosz
In this famous essay, now widely available for the first time in English translation, Weil challenges the foundation of the modern liberal political order and proposes that politics can only begin where the party spirit comes to an end. The volume also includes a portrait of Weil by the Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz and an essay about Weil’s friendship with Albert Camus by Simon Leys.
Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy by Darryl Pinckney
Darryl Pinckney’s first book in over ten years covers the participation of blacks in US electoral politics, from Reconstruction to the Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and what it may mean for the political influence of black voters in future elections.
In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass, introduction by Joanna Scott
“This collection defines Gass not as a special but as a major voice … Gass engenders brand-new abrupt vulnerabilities. We read about the becalmed Midwest, about farmers mired in their dailiness, and realize too late that we’ve been exposed to a deadly poetry. It says that America is lost … No writer I’ve ever read, not even Joyce, can celebrate his world with a more piercing sadness.”—Frederic Morton, The New York Times
Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós, introduction by Jeremy Treglown, a new translation from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa
Until now Pérez Galdós’s tale of a beautiful and brilliant young woman’s attempt to free herself from an imprisoning relationship to a womanizing older man has been recognized more as the inspiration for a Buñuel film of the same name than as a masterpiece in its own right. Margaret Jull Costa’s new and fluid translation brings the Spanish realist’s story to glorious life.
Alphabetabum: An Album of Rare Photographs and Medium Verses by Vladimir Radunsky and Chris Raschka
A picture album. An alphabet book. An Alphabetabum! Here artist and designer Radunsky (illustrator of Advice to Little Girls by Mark Twain) allows us a special viewing of his own personal collection of portraits of girls and boys from the last century. And Caldecott Medal winner Chris Raschka (A Ball for Daisy) contributes a delightful poem imagining the life and personality of each child.
The Woman Who Borrowed Memories: Selected Stories by Tove Jansson, introduction by Lauren Groff, new translations from the Swedish by Thomas Teal and Silvester Mazzarella
Tove Jansson’s natural mode was the brief tale—whether in her comic strips and Moomin stories, or in her moving compilation of moments from family life on a remote island, The Summer Book. This first, career-spanning collection of her short stories returns to the settings of Jansson’s familiar work and also delves deeper into themes of travel, artistic creation, and the conundrum of living among humans as flawed as oneself.
The Land Breakers by John Ehle, introduction by Linda Spalding
A historical saga that chronicles Appalachian settlement during the Revolutionary War years. “Reads like living history … I could recommend this book simply for Ehle’s vivid portrayal of the purely practical struggle of pioneering life … but it’s also a riveting story, with scenes that will remain alive for me for a long time.”—Lori Benton
Anna Aemelin had the great, persuasive power of monomania, of being able to see and embrace a single idea, of being interested in one thing only. And that one thing was the woods, the forest floor. Anna Aemelin could render the ground in a forest so faithfully and in such minute detail that she missed not the tiniest needle. Her watercolours were small and implacably naturalistic, and they were as pretty as the springy blanket of mosses and delicate plants that a person walks across in a dense forest but seldom really observes. Anna Aemelin made people see.
—Tove Jansson, The True Deceiver
The book is pictured here with a pair of trousers and a mug of tea—but we don’t question the nice people who send us photographs.
Grandmother had had to be frugal all her life, and so she had a weakness for extravagance. She watched the basin and the barrels and every crevice in the granite fill with water and overflow. She looked at the mattresses out being aired and the dishes that were washing themselves. She sighed contentedly, and, absorbed in thought, she filled a coffee cup with precious drinking water and poured it over a daisy.
—Tove Jansson, The Summer Book
This reader-submitted photo was taken at what looks like Verb Café in Williamsburg—right next to the excellent Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers—in late October. She writes, that on the “last of the autumn Sundays … you gather close to your steaming mug and open book; the last pages of summer.”