The bridge to Rivendell by Tove Jansson
I visited the Moomins shop in Covent Garden yesterday. I’ve always liked the Moomins but my interest has been somewhat reignited by a piece on Kate MacDonald’s excellent blog post about the author Tove Jansson (see katemacdonald.net). Fascinated by the idea that Jansson had trained as an artist I was looking through a biography when I found the picture above. It is from an illustrated version of The Hobbit with pictures by Tove Jansson. The book wasn’t very successful, people preferred Tolkein’s own illustrations, but I think the pictures are fantastic!
There are two things I find very interesting about this. Firstly, there is more of a connection between Tove Jansson’s Finnish influenced world of the Moomins and Tolkein’s middle earth than you might think. Both draw from a common European heritage of myth and legend. One of Tolkein’s aims was to restore mythology to Britain to make up for the cultural heritage destroyed by the Norman invasion.
Secondly, when I look at the Jannson illustrations, they remind me of my own imaginings when I first read The Hobbit. They are certainly far closer than the recent films. Don’t get me wrong, the films are great, they’re just nothing like the book.
And of course this raises a further point. Every time someone reads a book, that world is created anew in the mind of the reader. Each of us sees what the author has tried to convey, but interpreted through our own experience. A film is just one person’s imagining.
Which is why books are so special.