Manny's Reviews > Hattstugan: En saga på vers med rim som barnen får hitta på själva

Hattstugan by Elsa Beskow
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Sep 17, 10

bookshelves: children, swedish-norwegian-and-danish, why-not-call-it-poetry
Read on August 07, 2010

This is a classic Swedish children's book in rhyming couplets with an unusual feature: the rhyming word in the second line of the couplet is (nearly) always omitted, so the child has to guess it himself. It's odd that it hasn't been done more often since then. Let me try and give you the effect in translation:
I'll bet you'll be surprised when you learn that
They lived inside an old, abandoned ...
The missing word, in case it isn't obvious from the cover, is "hat". It's cute.

And the artwork, as always in Elsa Beskow's books, is charming. But... I'm sorry. I'm really doing my best to read it in its historical context, and I don't want to come over all PC, but it's so sexist, ageist and everything-else-ist that I just can't appreciate it properly. Let me tell you the story, and you can judge for yourselves. We have a single mother tomte (sort of gnome/leprechaun very popular in Swedish mythology) and her three kids, who live in the aforementioned hat on an island. On the shore we have a male tomte who lives in a tree-stump.

One day, the mother rows over to the shore. The kids decide they'll make themselves useful and wash all the clothes. Unfortunately, the fire they start ends up burning their house down, so when Mom gets home there's just smouldering ashes and three terrified children. Things don't look too good! But the male tomte says hey, why don't we get married? You can come and live in my tree-stump, and I'll make sure I beat some sense into those bratty kids of yours. She accepts, and they live happily ever after.

Aaaaargh!
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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The Crimson Fucker Alfonso was here first! #3


message 2: by notgettingenough (last edited Sep 17, 2010 10:38PM) (new)

notgettingenough Damn you Alfonso. NGE was here second.

But that's a great story. What's wrong with the ending? Why is that sexist? The woman has to live alone for the rest of her life in order to be politically correct?

PS: I love the idea of the guess the ending. Brilliant.


Manny What's wrong with the ending? Why is that sexist? The woman has to live alone for the rest of her life in order to be politically correct?

Um... if she'd wanted to marry him, why didn't she do so before her house burned down? Or at least, that was my first thought.


The Crimson Fucker i'm sorry NGE!!! but i am bored!!!! (not by the review! that i liked!)


notgettingenough Manny wrote: "What's wrong with the ending? Why is that sexist? The woman has to live alone for the rest of her life in order to be politically correct?

Um... if she'd wanted to marry him, why didn't she do so before her house burned down? Or at least, that was my first thought. "


Um. In the story as you describe it, he says let's get married and she says yes. This happened to be after the house got burned down. I guess you could say it is sexist to respond to an offer of love, when it arises. Personally, I think it's a pity if we have to think that is sexist.


notgettingenough Oh dear. I want to take back 'Um'...I find it about as rude as 'huh' which I would never use. Sorry.


Manny You're right, it is unusual! I can't explain it myself. Maybe the fact that it's in verse has something to do with it? I will have to think about this...


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