Suvi's Reviews > Moominpappa's Memoirs

Moominpappa's Memoirs by Tove Jansson
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's review
Jun 18, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: children, _europe-northern, 1940-1969
Read in June, 2014

Here Moominpappa gets the chance to tell with his own words about his younger years. A dismal childhood in an orphanage and the feeling of not being loved or appreciated changes into great adventures with Hodgkins and his ship. Moominpappa's narrative voice is pompous and self-centered but not the least bit annoying. The satirizing of the memoir genre gives a special air to the whole book.

Several of my favourite scenes from the tv-series are included: a female Hemulen gets rescued from Groke and tries to push her educational values on the ship's bohemian coffee-drinking crew, the deep sea dive with all the mysterious fish with lamps, and the slightly inept Island Ghost.

Two characters have been more hazy to me until now. Joxter is very similar to Snufkin, only a bit more lazy. Snufkin seems to have inherited all his good qualities: criticism towards excessive rules, drifting, and enjoying life. Mymble is busy popping out new kids every once in a while and seems to be very liberal in her parenting (reading scary stories to her brood at night and merely laughing at their shenanigans), not to mention the affair with Joxter. Good for you, Mymble, although I'm not sure Joxter is a very suitable father.

There's of course the one thread throughout which gives this a more serious undertone. After gaining his independence Moominpappa constantly struggles between the need of having his own family and the need for adventure. There's a beautiful and poignant passage at the end where Moominpappa muses that friends are starting families or gaining a new position in the world. They begin to be scared of the rain while he is becoming increasingly lonely.

Although it becomes evident later on that despite of settling down Moominpappa never abandons the possibility to go on an adventure, and learns to balance his needs with domesticity, the conflict between the two opposite desires (along with the feeling of disappointment of never achieving enough) takes the book into darker waters and paves the road to later themes.

"I cannot stress enough the perils of your friends marrying or becoming court inventors. One day you are all a society of outlaws, adventurous comrades and companions who will be pushing off somewhere or other when things become tiresome; you have all the world to choose from, just by looking at the map… And then, suddenly, they’re not interested any more. They want to keep warm. They’re afraid of rain. They start collecting big things that can’t fit in a rucksack. They talk only of small things. They don’t like to make sudden decisions and do something contrariwise. Formerly they hoisted sail; now they carpenter little shelves for porcelain mugs."

"'Well,' said Hodgkins, 'perhaps he really is interested in everything, only he doesn't overdo it. For ourselves there is always one single interest. You want to become. I want to do. My nephew wants to have. But the Joxter just lives.'

'Simply lives,' I said. 'Anybody can do that.'

'Mphm,' Hodgkins said."

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06/18/2014 marked as: read

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