16 November 2015

Introduction to Moomin stories: The Moomins and the Great Flood, 1945

In Swedish: Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen, 1945
In Finnish: Muumit ja suuri tuhotulva, 1991
In English: The Moomins and the Great Flood, 2005

Söderström & Co published the first Moomin story – The Moomins and the Great Flood – in Swedish. It is the story about Moominmamma’s and Moomintroll’s search for the missing Moominpappa last seen wandering with the Hattifatteners. It is also a story how they found their way to the beautiful Moominvalley, born as a result of the great flood.

In this first Moomin book we’ll get to know the few main characters of Moominvalley: Moomin family living in a MoominhouseMoominpappa, Moominmamma and Moomintroll as well as Sniff, Hemulens and Hattifatteners. Also the ancient moomintrolls, the ancestors, are introduced in the first Moomin book as characters living behind the stoves of people’s houses.

moomin_bok-småtrollen-och-den-stora-översvämninegn

Tove Jansson wrote the first Moomin book during the Winter War. Tove Jansson felt that all the lovely colours had died during the war and she needed to write something that ends up happily. Her friends suggested her to write a storybook and during 1939-1940 she wrote the first version of her first Moomin book The Moomins and the Great Flood. Tove chose her cartoon-signature of the Swedish satirical journal, Garm, to be the main character of her story.

Moomin_Snork_Garm_1944

Danger, threats as well as fears are present in the first book, like they were present on people’s life while the book was written. Loss and sorrow but also the hope of the better future were the realities of war. The Moomins and the Great Flood is a story about catastrophe but also about the formation of family.

As late as in 1944, during the Continuation War and Second World War, Tove delivered the book for the publisher Söderström & Co and the book was published in 1945, right after peace was declared. In Swedish, the book was named Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen. Småtrollen means same as ‘little trolls’ and it was chosen instead of Mumin (Moomin) because the publisher thought Moomin is too imaginative and would drive all the readers away.

Moomins and the Great Flood_Moominvalley

The book didn’t succeed at first, and it was translated into Finnish not until 1991. This was also the last Moomin book that was translated into English, in 2005, to celebrate 60 years of the Moomins. What confused publishers the most was the fact that the book was written for both adults and children and not only for one or the another.

Although only 219 copies of the book The Moomins and the Great Flood were sold in 1946, the next Moomin book, Comet in Moominland, was published already in 1946. Writing and drawing Moomin stories gave Tove a new vent for expressing herself.