9 August 1999                                  

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Attack against Kant inspired Moomintroll character

The origins of Moomintroll characters have puzzled and fascinated millions of children and adults around the world. Now the creator of these characters has revealed that the first Moomintroll drawing was a vicious attack against the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.

In an interview in connection with her 85th birthday on the 9th of August (Helsingin Sanomat, 8 August 1999), the author and illustrator Tove Jansson tells the story how in her childhood in the 1930s she had lost in a philosophical argument with her kid brother. His winning argument was based on a citation from Kant. In disgust, Tove drew an ugly troll and wrote underneath "Kant!".

The troll character reappeared in the early 40s in illustrations for various magazines. Soon Jansson adopted the figure as her signature illustration and it began to get its sympathetic look.

During the war years Jansson was preparing her first Moomin book. The figure of Moomin got finalised after she had finished writing the text. The first Moomin book was published in 1945. Tove Jansson writes in Swedish. The first books in Finnish translation appeared in the early 50s. English translations began to be published during the 60s.

Meanwhile, in 1953, Associated Press commissioned her to draw a daily Moomin comic strip, to be published in the Evening News. In 1960 her younger brother Lars Jansson continued the drawing of the internationally published Moomin strips.

A new book about Tove Jansson’s work will be published in August 1999. It will be available in Finnish and English, and later in Swedish. It is edited by Mirja Kivi and is called Moominvalley.

The real treasure house of Tove Jansson’s artistic production is the responsibility of the Tampere Arts Museum. It is called Moominvalley and is located in the Metso Library.

Link to Moominvalley

You could also read Alison Lurie's reviews of several Moomin books by Tove Jansson. The reviews appeared in the New York Review of Books in December 1992.

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