SUMMARIES

Sirke Happonen  (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Flowers, horror and the idea of the correctly painted forest -- the tradition of book illustration as a gate for Tove Jansson's ageless worlds

As a creator of the Moomin books and comics, a unique fantasy world based on both images and texts, Tove Jansson is often described as a lone wolf. On the other hand, she was quite aware of the tradition and inspired by several artists and writers, literary genres and art movements. In the field of illustration, Jansson admired especially the work of Gustave Dor? (1832-1883), Elsa Beskow (1874-1953) and John Bauer (1882-1918). Her relation to these three illustrators can not only be seen in her images but also in her writing; furthermore, she refers to their work in her essays. In this presentation I intend to illuminate how Jansson derives some kind of aesthetic principles from these artists, and how these ideas may act as a background for Jansson's art and its multiple audiences, including both adult and child readerships. For Jansson, the conventions of illustration merge with historical book making traditions and seem to create both narrative and practical possibilities. Sometimes she deals with her predecessors with strong enchantment, sometimes with brisk self-irony and humour.

 

Irina Dneprova (Russia) 

A Fairy-Tale Idyll (The Genre Identity of Tove Jansson’s Fairy-Tales)

Genre of Tove Jansson’s fairy tales is synthetic, but its prevalent element is idyll. Moomins’ world is a world of naivety and innocence, of nature, love, poetics of everyday life and family happiness. It exists beyond the historical time, in some mythical Golden Age, which is naturally associated with golden days of childhood. Idyllic atmosphere of fairy-tales doesn’t contradict to the invasion of evil, which is necessary for the dynamic development of the plot. Balance between “security and suffering” is the principle of T. Jansson’s artistic method. Unlike the heroes of traditional idyll, Jansson’s heroes don’t receive their idyllic existence from nature or God, but create it themselves. All the eight books of Moomin Suite are devoted to Moomins creating their “idyll” and so implemented the indispensable principle of this genre, i. e. didacticism. Creation of idyllic world is possible because of mysterious nature of the characters, which combine humanistic and natural elements in one whole unity.

 

Ekaterina Levko (St. Petersburg Humanitary University of Trade Unions, Russia)

Characters, images, objects, and methods for their nomination in  Tove Jansson's tales

Universal ideals of humaneness, kindness, beauty and truth run through life of Tove Jansson’s heroes. Her tales are interweaving and interaction of fantasy and reality.

In her speech on the occasion of receiving of international Hans Christian Andersen Award Tove Jansson gives capacious definition of the children’s world: “Children’s world is a chiseled landscape… where safety goes along with suffering… and lack of common sense is interwoven with… rigorous logic”.

A distinct nomination helps to create images. Name Snusmumriken (with hero’s pipe as an inalienable attribute) corresponds with the Swedish word snus — i. e. “tobacco”. English equivalent of the name is Snufkin (which is derivate of snuff — “tobacco”), Finish —Nuuskamuikkunen (nuuska — “tobacco”), while in German (Der Mumrik) and Russian (Снусмумрик) languages the meaning of the name is lost.

Another name which lost its meaning in translation is Hemulen (Swedish hemul means “document” or “proof”). Hemulen tries to bend lives of his neighbors to certain rules.   

Lilla My (Little My) is a character with a phonetically meaningful name: sounds which are phonated with extended lips can be associated with bad mood, mockery or disdain. 

 

Elena Ovchinnikova (The Institute of Philosophy, StPb State University, Russia)

The Ethical Dimension of Children’s Literature

Childhood’s image in the context of ethics of education: its historical and modern aspects. Moral constants in children’s literature. Patterns of morality in children’s literature. The problem of ethical values and moral assessment in children’s literature.  

 

Agneta Rehal Johansson (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

Ethics and artistic methods in Tove Jansson’s Moomin suite

In my paper I will focus on the ethics of Tove Jansson’s by analyzing the way she treats and shaps her grotesque figures in her final Moomin suite. The Moomin Suite is the author´s final, overall Moomin work consisting in eight books, published after a second and radical set of revision in 1969-70. In the Suite there is a special ‘emotional-axiological attitude’ (Bachtin) toward the characters, that includes an unprejudiced interest to each of them regardless of their differing characteristics or inclinations. There is also an abolition of conventional hierarchies of values represented by the characters, that is, between ridiculous and admirable personalities, between desirable and pitiful qualities, between one desire and another. The author’s use of a guileless narrator, shaped to correspond to the naïve characters’ imaginations and conceptual worlds, a mask of psychological naïvité and character studies without psychological introspection are some of the artistic methods I will deal with. 

 

Kuisma Korhonen (University of Oulu, Finland)

Looking through the Eyes of the Groke: Tove Jansson and Ethics of Focalization

Whereas the first Moomin novels were more or less straight adventure books with a traditional epic narrator, in the last Moomin books Tove Jansson often used modernist focalization technique, familiar rather from the "adult literature" of the time than from children's books. Thanks to this technique, her narrator could reveal the inner thoughts of her characters and thus portray them with more psychological depth. Moreover, as I will show in my presentation, the use of focalization - seeing things from the viewpoint of some other - was deeply linked to the themes of identity and otherness that were central in Jansson's fiction (both in Moomin-novels and her late "adult" oeuvre), and to philosophical questions like: Where goes the limit between freedom and indifference? Where goes the limit between empathy and over identification? Is it possible to see the world through the eyes of the abject other – the Groke? Jansson does not offer easy answers to these questions, but lets her characters to find their own way, her narrative voice reading the minds of her characters, and her characters trying to read each other's minds. 

 

Bengt Lundgren (Stockholm University, Sweden)

The candid Moomintroll learns about life

A topic of this conference is to discuss the often gratuitous boundaries between children’s books and books for adults. A classical ‘adventure story’ that may be looked upon in this context is Voltaire’s Candide. In my paper I discuss intertextual connections between Voltaire’s famous satirical novella and a couple of Moomin stories, in particular these two: 

- The Moomins and the Great Flood (1945; the very first tale of the Moomin family) 
Comet in Moominland (1946), in a thoroughly revised version Comet Approaching (1968).

Dangerous adventures, natural disasters; the naïve hero who learns about life through hardships; the untrustworthy utopia – these are connections worth looking into.

Himself a philosopher – even the incarnation of esprit – Voltaire made a hilarious satirical comment on the philosophy of Leibniz and others. In light of cataclysms, persecution in the name of religion, war and other hardships, Voltaire sets Optimism in perspective.

From her part Tove Jansson has provided us with what in this context may be called Moomin Philosophy, a philosohpy for everyday life which reflects Human Condition in a way that speeks to young and to old.'

 

Tatyana Tsymbal (Kryvyi Rih National University, Ukrane)   on-line

Always Live in Present: Moomins' Rules as a Way of Existential Reestablishment of a Person

The paper presents an attempt to understand philosophical context of Moomin rules of life in the context of author’s conception of human rooting in existence, which is defined as the maximal plentitude of human existence, human self-actualization and self-realization of all of his/her essential forces, abilities, skills, as a horizon of his/her personal temporal space for manifestation of existentials of spirituality, creativity, freedom, sovereignty and responsibility. T. Jansson’s literary characters understand this phenomenon and thus local rooting as a level of everyday life rises to an ontological level as manifestation of freedom, spiritual wealth, “being-for-oneself” and “culture-of-oneself”. Deep and at the same time simple, clear thoughts of Moomins can be used as a basis for understanding of inner spiritual core of “external” man, as a way to dissolve true being as a unity of desirable, existing and due from survival, simulation, profanation and conformist formalization of life. 

 

Sergei Troitskii (Institute of Philosophy, SPbSU, Russia)

Ontological Authenticity as a Fundamental Category of Children’s Literature

The paper examines context of term “authenticity” in connection with another term, “authentic existence”, which has been introduced by Existentialist philosophers. The speaker finds authenticity in children’s literature, where it exists as a fundamental for a category of author-reader communication.

 

Pavel Kretov (Institute of History and Philosophy of Cherkassy National B. Khmelnytsky University, Ukraine) on-line

Postmodernity: The Crisis of a Person's Cultural Identity  and  the Universum of Children's Literature

The paper analyzes specific character of children’s literature which highlights universal and existential basis and context of human worldview as opposed to the distinction of genres in “adult” literature which explicates narrowness of person’s social functions and so fixates his or her alienation from himself (herself). It is assumed that children’s literature (thanks to its “structures of human implementation” and paradigmatic features) is in direct opposition to post-modern literary tradition. That makes it possible to consider Tove Jansson’s work and her world of Moominvalley in the light of phenomenological (phenomenology of waiting), existential (existentials of perception and experience of the world) and semiotic (space-time, symbolism and informal logic) traditions. The paper also parallels Jansson’s world with subject matter of the contemporary philosophy.

 

Eugenia Vasiljeva (Moscow City Palace for Children's (Youth's) Crafts, Russia)

“A Real Story” as Food for Thought: An Experience of Practical Philosophy with Children

The paper analyzes some principles of literature, key for development of a child philosophical reflection, which were mentioned by T. Jansson in her speech on occasion of receiving of International Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1967. Jansson’s appeal to the unique space of a child’s world, containing all philosophical questions and balancing all the contradictions, which is prerequisite for development of consciousness, is important in modern-day information society, oriented on visual culture and consumption of ready-made “production”. This makes careful and respectful preservation of space for imagination and reflection within a child’s personal experience an action program not only for authors (writers and illustrators), but also for parents, educators and children’s guides in the space of culture. In conclusion the speaker summarizes an attempt of practical philosophizing with children on the material of contemporary literary works and philosophical tales. 

 

Elena Burovskaya (Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University named after Victor P. Astafjev, Russia)

Homo Maturans: Contemporary Concepts of Childhood

Today we become witnesses of a significant change in perception of childhood and norms and practices of maturation. Psychologists and educators write about reconfiguration of age scale and acceleration of maturation, but at the same time the final transition to adulthood nowadays is completed later or never happens. Forsythe Project “Childhood-2020” states that very contradictory and inconsistent ideas about childhood exist in our society. And the fact, that many world universities conduct research projects on childhood, demonstrates that this question is of great importance for everybody. In many countries specialists speak about disappearance of childhood: the very notion of “childhood” is based on the contrast between children and adults, which is retained and reproduced in culture. Childhood isn’t “…a secret garden hidden from life by a high wall of parental care and protection” any more. Family is the main space of maturation, and today parents and children have different experience and deal with events of their lives together, but in different manner. Those cognitions are sometimes the same and sometimes — radically dissimilar. Literature gives an opportunity to understand and to comprehend. Practices, values, goals and emotional background of maturation have been changed. Literature can build bridges of mutual understanding between children and adults. 

 

Natalya Starostina-Trubitsina (Young Harris College, USA) on-line

Children’s Literature of Russian Emigration during the Interwar Period in France: On the Problem of Memory and the Creation of Russian Identity

When you turn over the pages of La Russie Illustrée: a magazine intended for Russian Diaspora during the interwar period in France, it is impossible not to notice great attention paid by Russian writers to émigré children.  Sasha Chorny published stories for children; pages of the magazine often were decorated with pictures of Russian New Year shows and children’s parties; and finally, some writers who weren’t previously interested in “child themes” began to write stories about children or recollections of their childhood in now far away Russia. In particular, Nadezhda Teffi wrote a small series of short stories entitled “Children”, describing her own childhood as well as children of Russian émigrés. My paper analyses this interesting phenomenon and examines, how significant children’s literature was for the creation of Russian identity during emigration. 

 

Lada Shipovalova (Institute of Philosophy, SPbSU, Russia)

Why Does Time Need Space? or The Shape of Path Leading to the Moomin House

Modern-day transcendentalist tradition describes temporality of being-consciousness with sufficient fullness and includes in it three elements: retention in memory and reproduction, primary experience, expectation of the future, — and every one of them isn’t simple. However it seems that in this description space eludes or remains a mode of external, alienated existence. The Path of Tale means admission of space into the basis of temporality, blasting the present (i. e. absolute temporal position of phenomenology) off from inside. The Path of Tale is the history of Present Time. Its shape is ambiguous. The paper examines specific shape of the return path in Moomin tales and confronts it with mythological temporality and G. Agamben’s concept of Modernity. 

 

Marina Stolyar (Chernihiv T. G. Shevchenko National Pedagogical University, Ukraine) on-line

The Chronotope of the Moomin Tales

In her Moomin tales T. Jansson build the world with architectonics based on two opposite topoi. One of them symbolized peace, order and comfort, while another connected with wilderness. The meaning of the latter is ambivalent: on the one hand it is a space of adventures, meetings and wonderful discoveries, while on the other it always hides something dangerous. Home is the main and invariant element of Jansson’s chronotope. However it isn’t shown as semantic center of ontology that leaves no alternative, but as a world every time chosen again after consideration of other variants. One of chronotope’s features is the connection of eschatological motives with cyclic model of time. As for the changes of chronotope made by author in the last tales of the Moomin series, this literary material would be interesting to consider in the apophatic context. 

 

Elena Rosstalnaya (Chernihiv T. G. Shevchenko National Pedagogical University, Ukraine) on-line

Quest as a Core Plot of T. Janssons Stories and J. R. R. Tolkiens Fairy-Tales

“Quest” is an essential element of modern computer games and RPG; it is also frequently used in the literary context. In this field it initially meant one of the methods of plot’s construction: when characters travel towards some goal through hardships and adventures. It is quest that shapes plot of T. Jansson’s tales Comet in Moominland and The Magician’s Hat as well as J. R. R. Tolkien’s fairy-tales Hobbit and Farmer Giles of Ham. All the heroes of these works set out on a journey, each of them with their own goals and motivation. During their travels heroes come through numerous hardships and meet a lot of characters, who either help or hinder them. To come through quest means to solve moral and ethical problems: each of heroes should “find himself”, grow up and overcome his fears. A solid cultural and mythological basis of a literary work makes it possible to address to both children and adults. 

 

Maria Majofis (School of Humanities Studies, RANEPA, Russia)

King Matt the First and Janusz Korczak — the Heroes of the Soviet Culture

Publication of the J. Korczak’s tale King Matt the First in Poland, and then, after a long break (1958), the new Russian translation of it in the Soviet Union, introduced not only the protagonist of the work, but also its author in cultural canon of Soviet intelligentsia. Soviet readers hardly noticed social and political issues discussed in Korczak’s tale and saw it rather from existentialist point of view: as a tale about reality killing the most ambitious dreams, and enthusiastic reformer who is unable to resist his sluggish environment. Korczak’s biography and world-view had been comprehended in similar way: for his readers he was primarily an apologist of the idea of ​​“pure childhood” which is possible only provided that child has self-sacrificing love of his teacher and parents; a humanist, who brought the idea of self-sacrifice to its limit, when had entered together with his pupils to the gas chamber despite the opportunity to save his life. It is no coincidence that this very episode opens the vast majority of prefaces to Soviet editions of Korczak’s works. In the story of the death of the Polish teacher his Soviet advocates from 1950–70s find the key to all his works: literary and journalistic as well as didactic. In Soviet literature, press and theatre Korczak became absolutely equal to his own hero, King Matt, while the tale which was written in 1923 turned out to be almost testimony of Holocaust. Even more so, Korczak’s biography was one of the few opportunities to hint to the Holocaust in the censored Soviet press. Of course, all this cultural mythology was created by adult Soviet people, but nevertheless young readers assimilated it quite actively. It seems that children and adults were drawn together in their interest to Korczak first of all by the ideology and practice of collective life and self-organization beyond the Soviet and Marxist context. 

 

Natalya Charitonova (Gorky Institute of World Literature, RAS, Higher School of Economics, Russia)

The Children of Spanish Republic, the “Precious Cargoof the Soviet Cultural Space

The Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) has become an event that was widely covered in the world press and documentary cinema and generated a wave of international solidarity. It is well known that the Soviet Union helped the Republican government and in particular had received nearly three thousand of Spanish children in the period since 1937. The issue of “children of Republican Spain”, of “precious cargo” (S. Marshak) which had arrived to the USSR was kept very much in Soviet news of the time; moreover, there was a sound response on the event in Soviet literature (including children’s literature), which coined the name for this group of children: “Spanish children”. The paper analyses the course of life of this collective body in Soviet cultural space (its long standing existence and stereotypes connected with “Spanish children” first of all) on the material of Soviet press and literature. 

 

Ekaterina Asonova (Moscow City Teachers’ Training University; “Culture of Childhood” Charity Fund, Russia)

Grandparents in Children’s Translated Literature: Surprisingly Strange but Extremely Familiar

The paper will examine images of grandparents in contemporary foreign literature (German, American, Swedish and Italian) for children and teenagers from the point of view of their perception in confront with ideas of “Soviet grandmother/Soviet grandfather”. The main point to be discussed: In spite of their mirror contrast ideas of Soviet and European grand-relatives have some cross points and reflect general trends of society development and interpretation of family as a multigenerational community of friends and relatives. The main criterion for comparative analysis is attitude to misconduct and “rules”, investigation of “space of adults’ world”, meals etc. 

 

Nadezhda Orlova (Institute of Philosophy, SPbSU, Russia)

My Hottabych and the Others

The paper will analyze ideological saturation of the early Soviet ideas of “We” / “Others” on the material of once popular fairy-tale Old Man Hottabych. New editions of the book, new versions of its text as well as screen versions of “Hottabych” and its metaphorical longevity will be examined. Si material for understanding the place and significance of this fairy-tale for pressing issues of contemporary pedagogy are the responses of press on heroes’ “magic carpet ride” over the vast space of Soviet childhood. 

 

Vera Sibirtseva (Higher School of Economics National Research University, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia) on-line

Fantastic Characters in the Children’s Literature of 1960–70s (computer analysis)

Since the mid-1960s translated works (a lot of them — fantastic tales) have being introduced into the circle of reading of a Soviet child aged 7–12. Tales by T. Jansson and A. Lindgren were followed by works of other famous foreign children’s authors, including German. Unnoticeably, little by little they communicated to their reader the ideas of changes in world-view. Those tales were full of everyday magic that was incomprehensible but made the life better; children read about not only heroes of new types but also new problems which previously hadn’t been discussed. It is in these tales where fantastic heroes become images, which are significant for literary text and can be connected with some fragment of real space. The paper describes an attempt to analyze these texts using statistical methods. 

 

Maria Vorobjeva (Ekaterinburg Academy of Contemporary Art (Institute), Russia)

Soviet Style Moomins: Thge Metamorphoses of Meanings (A Case Study of Translations of T. Jansson’s Tales and Cartoons about Moomins)

The paper is an attempt to study treatment of T. Jansson’s Moomin tales in the official Soviet culture of the late 1960s — early 1980s. Filters passed by the tales (before translations and cartoons were made and Moomins were introduced to their audience) are in the focus of attention: those include filter of selection for translation, filter of translation which adapted the tales for Soviet readers, filter of screening, which made the stories shorter on account of some characters and plot lines and significantly changed their mood, making it more infantile. A certain style of Moomin tales’ presentation in animated films is connected with specific features of genre (i. e. children’s literature) to which they were attributed without any doubts and peculiarities of the official Soviet culture (especially its trend to perceive state as a large family, where citizens are children under guardianship). We can see similar process (i. e. infantilization and reduction of content) in Soviet screen versions of Vladislav Krapivin’s works (like Tove Jansson, this Ural author wrote books which can be described as “border-line literature”, intended neither exclusively for adults nor only for children). 

 

Yaroslava Novikova (SPbSU, Russia)

Fairy-Tales during Wartime: Pessi ans Illusia by Yrjö Kokko (1944)

In Finnish literature nature traditionally is seemed as a friend, who is ready to provide hero with safe haven in times of personal unhappiness and social cataclysms. The articles of the Finnish Army Propaganda Department during the Winter War (1939–1940) and the Soviet-Finnish War (1941–1944) presented forest as an ally of soldiers. However the need to free the nature from politics and to return its innocence and sacred purity (all the qualities, which according to philologist Pertti Lassila traditionally formed the very basis of romantic and pantheistic Finnish attitude to nature) had already emerged during wartime. In summer, 1944, during the operation “Vyborg—Petrozavodsk” was published a tale Pessi and Illusia, which lately became very popular among the Finnish people (the 6th edition was published as early as in 1948). This tale intended both for children and for adults was written by Yrjö Kokko: a writer, a veterinarian and a protector of nature. The book is about friendship and love of troll and elf-girl, and dialectics of pessimism and hope. 

 

Anna Nekrylova (The Academic Institute of Russian Literature (IRLI) (Pushkinsky Dom), Russia)

Fairy-Tale on the Stage of the Modern Puppet-Theater

How to combine fairy-tale poetics (text of fairy-tale) with language of theater, laws of fairy-tale narration and laws of scene? 

 

Sara Granath (Södertörns högskola, Sweden)

Moomin in Everyday Swedish Life

The Moomin characters are prevalent in various forms all over the world, in books, films, cartoons, on coffee mugs, clothes, boxes, playing cards etc.

In my paper I study the everyday prevalence of Moomin characters in Sweden today. Where and how do we meet them? What do they mean to us? Particularly I want to find out how these characters are used in conversation, in newspaper articles and in other writers’ work.

What characters are most often mentioned and for what purpose?

This is, of course, a huge undertaking, and my paper just aims to give a general idea of where and how we – children and grownups alike – are likely to encounter (talk of) Moomin characters today.

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