“Hell, what a chance to have a go at the classics”: Tove Jansson’s take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Hunting of the Snark, and The Hobbit
Abstract: Tove Jansson is above all known as the creator of the Moomin world which includes novels, short stories, picture-books and comic strips. Between 1958 and 1966, however, she produced over a hundred illustrations offering a novel and idiosyncratic take on three English classics. With one exception, for over four decades these editions were not reprinted outside of Sweden and Finland. This article examines selected aspects of Jansson’s visual translations with references to the original illustrations and her own works. It proposes to consider these commissions as following some of the ideas expressed in her 1961 essay “Den lömska barnboksförfattaren” (“The Deceitful Children’s Author”), especially with regard to elements of “horror” and “the disguised”. Furthermore, by treating these illustrations as one consistently developed project, this article traces the strategies the artist used for her declared dissociation from the Moomin style.
Keywords: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; The Hunting of the Snark; The Hobbit; illustrations; classics; nonsense literature; fantasy; visual translations
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