Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2001
Subject: Re: Tove Janesson

peter culley wrote:

> Tove Janesson, Finnish author and illustrator of the Moomin books, died today at 86. Kiitos, Tove.

Thanks very much for posting this, Peter.

I was a summer "exchange" student in Sweden when I was a teenager (no one was "exchanged" back into my family in exchange for me, though). I made fast progess with learning Swedish, although I wasn't comfortable enough to speak it until the summer later when I returned and went traveling with friends. They first started my out with a Swedish baby book, Alla Vi Barn in Byllerbyn. We'd also take cracks at newspapers, Dagens Nyheter, etc.

Not long, though, before I'd "graduated" to be able to take on more teenage-sized literature. My friends were very fond of the Mummintroll books in Sw. translation. It may have been her illustrations especially that endeared them: sort of Pillsbury Dough Boy dumpling-shaped characters, fat-bottomed, who did funny things: pyrophobia, where "Pappan" was afraid there might be a tepid matchstick left underneath the dry leaves somewhere that would spontaneously ignite and cause a conflagration, etc., rowing in boats, their thumbcap-looking haberdasherie, Trollkarlenshatt [pronounced "-karlens-hatt," not "karlen-shatt"].

The reminder tempts to me to take the books down off the shelf. Might be fun-nice to eulogize Janesson with some sort of Adobe Photoshop of her pictures.

There was a character called "Lilla My" [the Sw. "y" in "My" is a non-English vowel, more pursed lips, etc., somewhat closer to the Eng. word "mew," the word for a seagull's sound; even "Lilla" is un-Englished in Swedish, more of a "LEE-lah"].

My cat was not named Mu after that character (his name came from the Japanese koan) but, much of the baby-talk/kitty-talk I used to talk with them (Shiki, the other) was broken English broken Swedish Latin etc. The private language of pet-owners. And I'd call him "Lilla My," sometimes.