the most irresistible fever of all

Forget Sars, Swine, and Mers.

A pandemic is currently ravaging Seoul.

It seems everyone in Korea has caught ….

MOOMIN FEVER

Here is a small sampling of the Moomin Merchandise available in various shops.

You can get a Moomin T-money card, for instance. Moomin water bottles. Moomin makeup. Part of me wonders if this is because Moomin have become public domain or Korea just doesn’t care.

But interesting as that sounds, licensing rights are not what I came here to talk about today. I would prefer to talk about how awesome the Moomin books are.

I never read them as a kid; primarily, I guess, because our small library didn’t have them.
But I’ve started reading them due to my own case of Moomin Fever and they are incredible. Up there, in my personal cannon, with any children’s classic you can think of.

Here are just a couple of moments from the books to illustrate what I mean.

Tales From Moominvalley (Tove Jansson)

Snufkin is a wandering philosopher. One night he is approached by a small, fawning, nameless creature and asked to tell some of this travel stories.

æ ‘No,’ Snufkin said. And he thought angrily: Why can’t they ever let my wanderings alone?! Can’t they understand that I’ll talk it all to pieces if I have to tell about it. Then it’s gone, and when I try to remember what it really was like, I remember only my own story.

Pretty insightful stuff. And here are just some nice bits of writing (translating.)

æ One ought to have the right to have a secret and to spring it as a surprise. But if you live inside a family you have neither.

æ The pleasureground lost its colours, shrank and withered away like a flower. It paled and rusted, and then it slowly started to disperse, because it was built on sand.

Comet in Moominland (Tove Jansson)

æ (Snufkin) stood gazing at it for several minutes. ‘It’s funny about paths and rivers,’ he mused. ‘You see them go by, and suddenly you feel upset and want to be somewhere else – wherever the path or the river is going perhaps.

Sniff is a cowardly, greedy little kangaroo creature that nonetheless gets along well with the noble Moomin.

æ You always want adventures, Sniff, and when they come you’re so frightened you don’t know what to do.’ ‘Well, I’m not a lion,’ said Sniff reproachfully. ‘I like small adventures. Just the right size.’

And more proof of how awesome Snufkin is below

æ ‘Do you like this place?’ asked Sniff in surprise, looking at the desolation all around them. ‘Certainly I do,’ said Snufkin. ‘Look at that black velvet tree with the beautiful grey colours beyond; look at the mountains that are deep purple-red in the distance! And sometimes a big blue buffalo comes to look at himself in the river.’ ‘You aren’t by any chance – er – a painter?’ asked Moomintroll rather shyly. ‘Or perhaps a poet?’ suggested Sniff. ‘I am everything!’ said Snufkin,

And the final bit of proof.

æ ‘But it’s true,’ said Snufkin. ‘We’re all like that. You must go on a long journey before you can really find out how wonderful home is.’ ‘Where’s your home then?’ asked the Snork maiden. ‘Nowhere,’ said Snufkin a little sadly, ‘or everywhere. It depends on how you look at it.’

Finn Family Moomintroll (Tove Jansson)

æ They went on to the veranda and crept up to the hat very cautiously. ‘It looks rather ordinary,’ said the Snork. ‘Unless you consider that a top hat is always somewhat extraordinary, of course.’

æ The Hemulen, moaning piteously, thrust his nose into the sand. ‘This has gone too far!’ he said. ‘Why can’t a poor innocent botanist live his life in peace and quiet?’ ‘Life is not peaceful,’ said Snufkin, contentedly.

æ Then – they saw the Groke. Everybody saw her. She sat motionless on the sandy path at the bottom of the steps and stared at them with round, expressionless eyes. She was not particularly big and didn’t look dangerous either, but you felt that she was terribly evil and would wait for ever. And that was awful.

So far I’ve only read those three books. But I can’t wait to read more. Moomin fever!!!

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