Dan Sandman

21: Sculpture’s Daughter by Tove Jansson

In Autobiography, Books, Fiction, Non-Fiction on 20/05/2016 at 12:00 pm

Sculpture's Daughter by Tove JanssonTove Jansson (1914 – 2001) is best known for being the creator of the Moonmin books. But, when she was in her fifties she turned her to attention to writing books for adults. Sculpture’s Daughter (1968) is the fist of these books written for adults and is a childhood memoir.

Each short story in the collection is a vignette that creates an impressionistic image on the reader. When all thirteen stories are viewed from a distance a cohesive whole begins to form. What appears is a wonderfully rich portrayal of the world as seen through the senses and thoughts of a child. At no point do we become aware of any image or feeling being imposed by an adult artist reflecting back on her childhood. The writing transports us from our world to another world within the pages of a book.

Language is carefully weighted and measured to precision. Words repeat to form musical rhythms, and simple words are preferred to complicated ones. When complex words such as ‘bourgeoisie’ do appear, it is done to humorous effect because the word is seen from the perspective of a child. Somewhere in the background lies the ugly presence of war and the adult world. But we the reader can only comprehend this world as a child might: understanding its shape, but only from its shadow.

‘Tove Jansson was a genius.’ – Phillip Pullman


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