the tales of moominvalley


Loneliness is one of the key themes in Moomin books. Tove Jansson was very familiar with this experience. Her father had been emotionally damaged by the civil war when Tove was very young and because of this, she spent her entire childhood longing for his affection. In her adulthood Tove experienced another war and had to wait for her brother, lover and friends who were away fighting. All while her friends and family were also mourning and emotionally distant. After the war ended, Tove entered another relationship full of longing and waiting with Atos Wirtanen. Endless waiting only seemed to end when she met Tuulikki Pietilä, who was finally there when Tove needed her most.

Constant waiting is a lonely experience. But Tove was also aware of another kind of loneliness. This kind of loneliness is the kind we seek ourselves. Tove was a very private person even when she became famous and also a dedicated artist who needed peace to work. She spent years trying to find a place where she could isolate herself to work and enjoy her own company.

Loneliness appears as duality in Moomin books. The bad kind of loneliness is represented with various Fillyjonks and sometimes Moomintroll himself, especially when he longs for Snufkin. Fillyjonks are anxious and depressed people who often suffer from sudden feelings of doom. Their unstable minds and efforts to keep up respectable life often end up isolating them in large houses on the beach because their grandmother had supposedly lived there as a child or in neatly decorated parlors with only their own thoughts for company. Fillyjonks long to escape this loneliness. They will reach out for people but they often fail. It seems it’s impossible to be both polite and proper and speak up about your depression at the same time.

Moominvalley in November is a book where loneliness is the main theme. So it is no wonder that a Fillyjonk is among the main characters. This Fillyjonk is tired of being anxious and alone, so she comes to visit Moomin family in hopes of getting caught up in their spontaneous life. When Moomin family appears to be away, she tries to be spontaneous like Moominmamma herself and make people around her feel at home. She fails miserably, because a timid and orderly Fillyjonk cannot be Moominmamma. Her efforts isolate her further until she lets go and starts to be herself but with a happier attitude towards herself. In the end she manages to put together a work party and heads back home with more enthusiasm. She was able to overcome her loneliness when she accepted her limitations and embraced them and others.

Another lonely Fillyjonk appears in Tales from Moominvalley; Fillyjonk Who Believed in Disasters. This Fillyjonk ends up overcoming her loneliness without other people like the Fillyjonk mentioned above. Instead, she encounters the disaster she was afraid of and turns her loneliness from bad kind to the good kind. This good kind of loneliness means that you can be by yourself and it’s not scary or unpleasant. Snufkin basically lives for this kind of loneliness. He not only enjoys being by himself, he yearns for it and becomes anxious if he does not get to be alone. In a way, his good loneliness is the opposite from Fillyjonk’s bad loneliness. This good kind of loneliness nurtures and gives us strength to be social again. Though eventually even Snufkin realizes that maybe he did not really need to be so much alone, when he was always surrounder by people who understood him.

There is no way to talk about loneliness and healing without talking about the very personification of loneliness; The Groke. The Groke is so cold that everything she touches turns to ice. This isolates her from other people completely. So completely, that they would rather not even mention her name. Whenever she approached their light, they will turn it off and run away. She is almost defiant in her loneliness. “I’m the only Groke. There is no one like me and I will never warm up” she declares in Moominpappa and the Sea. She is bad loneliness given form. But eventually a single act of kindness, Moomintroll coming to see her on the beach, frees the Groke. Moomintroll’s company and caring drive away her loneliness and turn out to be the key to her freedom; The Groke becomes warm. Moomin books always show us characters either freeing themselves from bad loneliness or finding out that limitless amount of good loneliness is not actually a key to happiness.

The truest example of independent and good loneliness is actually Little My. She is capable of finding just the right balance between loneliness and sociality. She is with others when she feels like it and despite being sharp and brutally honest, she is willing to support and nurture them whenever they need it. But she is also capable of running away whenever she feels like it. Little My is free of sentimentality and will not miss people and company. She can enjoy both loneliness and company to equal measure, without ever getting bored or sad.


Hemulens can be divided into two categories: those who have everything in control and those who don’t. Hemulens clearly represent authorities and public officers; both of which were despised in the Jansson family. They are active, organized and serious. Hemulens never pass up an opportunity to tell other people how to live. Wherever they look, they find something to fix. Their help is often overbearing. It might seem that Tove Jansson made Hemulens out to be annoying and unlikeable. However, she herself had many Hemulen-like traits; she was organized about her work, careful about her economy and diligent to the point of being stressed.

Maybe the most annoying kind of Hemulen is the type who wants to fix other people’s lives. They will storm in with their rules and regulations and force you to eat porridge. They dislike spending time alone with their thoughts and will do just about anything to keep themselves busy enough to avoid it. “Nothing is as dangerous as sitting inside.” But the Hemulen in “Moominvalley In November” (1970) just cannot escape thinking, especially in the mornings. He even, terrified, considers that what if other would actually do just fine even without his expertise.

The saddest thing about Hemulens is that they do not realize how hemulen they actually are. They see themselves as helpful, friendly and even funny. They have no tact as evident in “Moominvalley in November”, where Hemulen wants to chat desperately and does not realize how Snufkin would just like to be alone.

Most of Moomin characters have difficult time getting along with Hemulens. Moominpappa outright hates them and Snufkin gets angry at their rules. But nobody gets more anxious around Hemulens than other Hemulens, the ones who do not have everything in control. These divergent Hemulens are peculiar, perhaps by birth. They are sometimes called “failed as a Hemulen”. One of these Hemulens is “The Hemulen Who Loved Silence” from “Tales from Moominvalley” (1962). He cannot wait to retire and get away from his noisy, overbearing relatives. He finds happiness by building a park dedicated to silence, where only children can enter.

Another example would be Little Hemulen in “Moominsummer Madness” (1954). She is small, delicate and friendly. Like many peculiar Hemulens, she is bullied by her overbearing relatives. But her calmness and silent contentment shows that even a Hemulen can be happy and pleasant.

Moomin vocabulary in Finnish

Originally posted by bloodvaper

Muumi - Moomin
Lastenfantasia - children fantasy
Seikkailu - adventure
Tove Jansson - Tove Jansson
Suomenruotsalainen - Swedish-speaking Finn
Kirjailija - writer, author
Kuvittaja - illustrator
Taidemaalari - painter
Tuote - product
Kirja - book
Kuvakirja - picture book
Sarjakuva - comic strip
Televisiosarja - TV-series
Elokuva - movie
Lyhytelokuva - short movie
Videopeli - video game
Näytelmä - play
Ooppera - opera
Astia - dish
Muumimuki - moomin mug
Muumimaailma - Moominworld
Teemapuisto - theme park
Muumimuseo - Moomin Museum
Muumibuumi - The Moomin Boom
Muumit ja suuri tuhotulva - The Moomins and the Great Flood
Muumipeikko ja pyrstötähti - Comet in Moominland
Taikurin hattu - Finn Family Moomintroll
Muumipapan urotyöt - The Exploits of Moominpappa
Vaarallinen juhannus - Moominsummer Madness
Taikatalvi - Moominland Midwinter
Näkymätön lapsi ja muita kertomuksia - Tales from Moominvalley
Muumipappa ja meri - Moominpappa at Sea
Muumilaakson marraskuu - Moominvalley in November
Kuinkas sitten kävikään? - The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My
Kuka lohduttaisi Nyytiä? - Who Will Comfort Toffle?
Vaarallinen matka - The Dangerous Journey
Muumien maailma - The Moomins (TV series)
Muumilaakson tarinoita - Moomin (1990 TV series)
Muumit Rivieralla - Moomins on the Riviera
Käy muumilaaksoon - the Finnish opening theme of Moomin (TV series)
Hei muumit - the Finnish ending theme of Moomin (TV series)
Muumilaakso - Moominvalley
Muumitalo - Moominhouse
Yksinäiset vuoret - Lonely mountains 
Meri - sea
Uimahuone - bath house
Majakka - lighthouse
Teatteri - theatre 
Muumipeikko - Moomintroll
Muumimamma - Moominmamma
Muumipappa - Moominpappa
Niiskuneiti - Snorkmaiden
Niisku - Snork
Nipsu - Sniff
Pikku Myy - Little My
Mymmeli - Mymble
Nuuskamuikkunen - Snufkin
Hemuli - Hemulen
Poliisimestari - The Police Inspector
Haisuli - Stinky
Mörkö - Groke
Jäärouva - The Lady of the Cold
Tuutikki - Too-Ticky
Noita - The Witch
Aliisa - Alicia
Vilijonkka - Fillyjonk
Lapset - children
Taikuri -  The Hobgoblin
Tiuhti ja Viuhti - Thingumy and Bob
Hattivatti - Hattifattener
Piisamirotta -  The Muskrat
Esi-isä - The Ancestor
Hosuli - The Muddler
Sosuli - Fuzzy
Juksu - The Joxter
Fredrikson - Hodgkins
Drontti Edvard - Edward the Booble
Surku - Sorry-oo


When we are talking about Fillyjonks, it’s better to consider which kind we are talking about. The most famous must be Mrs. Fillyjonk who lives next door to Moomins in the 1990s cartoon. This character is based on Mrs Fillyjonk in the comics and is a more shallow and comedic character than Fillyjonks we meet in the books. Unlike Hemulens, Fillyjonks are almost always alone.

No matter which version you look at, all Fillyjonks are the picture of perfect housekeeping. Their homes are spotless, their teacups are delicate and all possessions are in order. Problems arise when this control is lost and this is best seen with Fillyjonks in the books; they become hysterical and scared and before you know it, they will be running on the beach screaming with their hands up.

The very first Fillyjonk appeared in picture book “The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My“ (1952) and right away we can see how fragile Fillyjonks are as she ends up being scared by Moomin and Mymble. The real breakthrough for the character happens in the novel “Fillyjonk Who Believed In Disasters” from “Tales From Moominvalley” (1962). This Fillyjonk lives alone on a beach in a house which terrifies her. The most important things in her life are order and cleaning. “How can I live if I cannot clean and cook?” This Fillyjonk uses order to control her anxiety but it’s fear that controls her. She is especially terrified of her large, angry windows.

In the end, Fillyjonk’s freedom arrives through those horrible windows. A merciful catastrophe arrives and messes up everything. When Fillyjonk is crawling on the beach she realizes that the real terror was inside the house, not outside of it. Finally, she is free. Similar experience happens to Fillyjonk in “Moominvalley in November” (1970) as she locks herself outside the window while cleaning. After seeing her home from the outside she realizes how desperately she needs to leave.

Fillyjonks are a combination of strict order and total chaos. They do their very best to keep up appearances and try to stay in control of their lives, usually by keeping material things around them in control. But they can never truly escape the anxiety and thoughts of different kinds of horrors sneak up on them in the middle of sunny days. When they finally snap, they truly lose it all and panic.
The only way a Fillyjonk can be truly free is for something to break them free, often by breaking everything old around them. After this breaking point they do not want to return to their old ways and instead show their spontaneous side; they dance, they laugh and they find peace.

Moomin vocabulary in Japanese

Originally posted by que-voyahacer

ムーミン - Moomin
ファンタジー - fantasy
冒険 [ぼうけん]   - adventure
トーベ・ヤンソン - Tove Jansson
スウェーデン系フィンランド人 [スウェーデンけいフィンランドじん] - Swedish-speaking Finn
作家 [さっか] - writer, author
イラストレーター - illustrator
画家 [がか] - painter
製品 [せいひん] - product
本 [ほん] - book
絵本 [えほん] - picture book
漫画 [まんが] - comics
コミックス - comics 
テレビシリーズ - TV-series
映画 [えいが] - movie
ゲーム - game
戯曲 [ぎきょく] - play 
オペラ - opera 
食器 [しょっき] - dish
ムーミン マグカップ - moomin mug
ムーミンワールド - Moomin World
テーマパーク - theme park
ムーミンミュージアム - Moomin Museum
ムーミンブーム - The Moomin Boom
小さなトロールと大きな洪水 [ちいさなトロールとおおきなこうずい]- The Moomins and the Great Flood  
ムーミン谷の彗星 [ムーミンたにのすいせい] - Comet in Moominland 
楽しいムーミン一家 [たのしいむーみんいっか] - Finn Family Moomintroll 
ムーミンパパの思い出 [ムーミンパパのおもいで] - The Exploits of Moominpappa 
ムーミン谷の夏まつり [ムーミンたにのなつまつり] - Moominsummer Madness 
ムーミン谷の冬 [ムーミンたにのふゆ] - Moominland Midwinter 
ムーミン谷の仲間たち [ムーミンたにのなかまたち] - Tales from Moominvalley 
ムーミンパパ海へ行く [ムーミンパパうみへいく] - Moominpappa at Sea
ムーミン谷の十一月 [ムーミンたにのじゅういちがつ] - Moominvalley in November 
それから どうなるの? - The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My
さびしがりやのクニット - Who Will Comfort Toffle?
ムーミン谷への ふしぎな旅 [ムーミンたにへのふしぎなたび] - The Dangerous Journey 
楽しいムーミン一家 [たのしいムーミンいっか] - Moomin (1990 TV series) 
劇場版 ムーミン 南の海で楽しいバカンス [げきじょうばん ムーミンみなみのうみでたのしいバカンス ]- Moomins on the Riviera 
ムーミン谷 [ムーミンたに] - Moominvalley 
ムーミン屋敷 [ムーミンやしき ] - Moominhouse 
おさびし山 [おさびしやま] - Lonely mountains
海 [うみ] - sea
水浴び小屋 [みずあびこや] - bath house
灯台 [とうだい] - lighthouse
劇場 [げきじょう] - theatre
ムーミントロール - Moomintroll
ムーミンママ - Moominmamma
ムーミンパパ - Moominpappa
スノークのおじょうさん, フローレン- Snorkmaiden
スノーク - Snork
スニフ - Sniff
(ちびの)ミイ - Little My
ミムラ(ねえさん) - Mymble
スナフキン - Snufkin
ヘムレン - Hemulen
警察署長 [けいさつしょちょう] - The Police Inspector
スティンキー - Stinky
モラン - Groke
氷姫 [こおりひめ] - The Lady of the Cold
トゥーティッキ, おしゃまさん  - Too-Ticky
クラリッサ - The Witch
アリサ - Alicia
フィリフヨンカ - Fillyjonk
子供 [こども] - children
飛行おに [ひこうおに]   -  The Hobgoblin
トフスランとビフスラン - Thingumy and Bob
ニョロニョロ - Hattifattener
ジャコウネズミ -  The Muskrat
先祖 [せんぞ] - The Ancestor
ロッドユール - The Muddler
ソースユール - Fuzzy
ヨクサル - The Joxter
フレドリクソン - Hodgkins
竜のエドワード [りゅうのエドワード- Edward the Booble
めそめそ - Sorry-oo

10 books that have stuck with me.

Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag [ten] friends, including me, so I’ll see your list. Make sure you let your friends know you’ve tagged them.”

(I was tagged in this meme by typhonatemybaby.)

  • Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling
  • The Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett
  • Onions in the Stew, by Betty McDonald
  • Weetzie Bat, by Francesca Lia Block
  • You Must Go And Win, by Alina Simone
  • Moominvalley in November, by Tove Jansson
  • Underfoot in Show Business, by Helene Hanff
  • Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett
  • My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell
  • The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman

Harry Potter

It’s impossible to tell just how influential HP has been to my generation. I haven’t really been ~in HP fandom~ since I was about 16, but those books were a huge part of my childhood and early teens. I reread the series continuously as each new one was published, and HP was my first online fandom so it eventually set me onto my current career path. As an adult I’ve also come to realise that JKR is a fantastic role model in terms of how she behaves as a public figure, and her political/social awareness.

The Lymond Chronicles

If you’ve been following me on Tumblr for long, you’ll probably have seen me reblog stuff about these books. They’re a six-volume series of dense and multi-layered historical novels about a 16th century Scottish nobleman, written in an incredibly well-informed, witty and sensitive style by a woman who I wish received more recognition from people outside her cult fanbase. Lymond is very much a wish-fulfillment character in that he’s prodigiously talented, exciting, charming and emotionally tormented, but this is complemented by the books’ smart, intricate plotting and a cast of diverse and well-developed supporting characters. Honestly, I could go on about these books all day. THEY ARE SO GOOD.

Onions in the Stew

Not sure how I latched onto this book as a kid, but I must have reread it a million times. It’s the memoir of a woman bringing up her two teenage daughters in the 1940s and ‘50s on a small, rainy island near Seattle. I guess I must have identified with it somehow as a child, partly due to the "make do and mend” attitude of being raised by slightly eccentric but very sensible parents without a great deal of money. (I think at the point when I first read Onions in the Stew, it was back when we were still doing things like washing all our laundry in the bath, so possibly I sympathized with those 1940s kids gathering driftwood to heat the house etc.) Whatever my personal reasons were for loving Onions in the Stew as a child, it’s a very engaging and relatable book, meandering around from humorous memoir to instruction manual to oral history of rural life in Washington in the '40s and '50s.

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