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Sculptor's Daughter by Tove Jansson

Sculptor's Daughter (1968)

by Tove Jansson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1981159,376 (3.98)16
  1. 00
    My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (MaidMeri)
    MaidMeri: Janssonin ja Durrellin lapsuuskertomuksissa on paljon samaa: lämpimän nostalginen ote, enemmän tai vähemmän boheemi perhe, eläimiä sekä viehättävän omituisia tapoja ja tarinoita.

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» See also 16 mentions

English (7)  Swedish (2)  Russian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All (11)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Not so much a memoir as a group of stories from the point of view of a child - Tove Jansson. Very evocative and sweet. The one where she puts on her mother's tulle skirt and creeps around, spying a monster in the mirror, is perfect. ( )
  piemouth | Jun 20, 2016 |
I have been under the spell of Tove Jansson since I first read The True Deceiver in 2009. I never encountered her Moomin books as a child, and I must admit, the Moomins don't appeal to me in the same way that characters in the books by Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak do.

But the books, she wrote for adults, starting in 1968 with The Sculptor's Daughter including The Summer Book, Sun City, Travelling Light, and Fair Play have entangled me in Jansson's web of contemplation about friendship, work, artistry, childhood, and aging.

I found Sculptor's Daughter: A Childhood Memoir (Bildhuggarens Dotter) enchanting. When I first discovered Jansson, this book had been long out of print and unavailable, though some of the chapters had been reprinted as stories in A Winter Book, so I was delighted to see that William Morrow had issued a paperback reprint last year.

Jansson's voice in these vignettes from her childhood is both whimsical and wise, creative and ultimately practical. Her memories take her from her grandparents' house in Sweden, to the loft-studio where she lived with her artist parents in Helsinki, to the small island on which they summered in Finland's bays.

This is from the chapter titled "The Bays":

The house is grey, the sky and the sea are grey, and the field is grey with dew. It's four o'clock in the morning and I have saved three important hours which can be counted as extra. Or perhaps three and a half.

I have learned to tell the time, although I'm not yet quite sure about the minutes.

I'm also light grey, but inside, because I'm all vague and wobbly like a jelly-fish, not thinking but just feeling. If you sailed a hundred miles over the sea and walked a hundred miles through the forest in all directions, you wouldn't find a little girl at all. They just don't exist. I know because I've found out....The nearest thing to it you'll find is Fanny who is almost seventy and collects pebbles and shells and dead animals and sings when it is going to rain.
( )
  janeajones | Dec 20, 2015 |
Tove Jansson really is quite unlike anyone else, and this collection of autobiographical stories underlines that - twice, in extra thick black marker pen.
She said that she wanted to write "in fully adult mode yet about what is still a small world", and so these stories are told from the child's point of view. But unlike most adults who try to remember what life felt like to be their child self, Jansson seems able to completely inhabit that strange world; really, it's as if she never left. There is absolutely no mawkishness, no sentimentality in the child's viewpoint: it is amoral and certain. I find her rather frightening, especially in the story 'The Iceburg'.
The writing is taut and sharply beautiful, as always with Jansson. ( )
  Goldengrove | Aug 24, 2015 |

I find it generally difficult to write up short story collections; I don't find it satisfactory to either list them all in exhaustive detail, or to concentrate on a few outstanding pieces, disregarding the rest. The most satisfying ones for blogging purposes are those with a unifying theme, preferably by a single author, and this collection of autobiographical snippets by one of my favourite writers ticked all of my boxes.

This was familiar territory - more than half of the autobiographical short stories and vignettes in Sculptor's Daughter are also in A Winter Book, but here there's a more systematic narrative of childhood, of a girl maybe around seven or nine years old growing up in an artistic household, in Helsinki in the 1920s. Some bits really stood out - her relationship with the household staff, her exploration of the countryside on her own, the grown-up political talk (with the recent horrible civil war an unspoken background), all built up parts of the bigger picture.

It's a very short book - 160 pages - and Moomin fans can safely try it as a sampler for Jansson's adult work. But it will also enlighten anyone interested in how European history was lived in small traumatised countries in the third decade of the last century, from the perspective of a child then looking back in later years. ( )
  nwhyte | Jul 12, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tove Janssonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hart, KingsleyTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jansson, LarsPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jansson, Per-OlovPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, AliIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Min morfar var präst och brukade predika för kungen.
Grandfather was a clergyman and used to preach to the King.
All men have parties and are pals who let each other down. A pal can say terrible things which are forgotten the next day. A pal never forgives, he just forgets and a woman forgives but never forgets. That's how it is. That's why women aren't allowed to have parties. Being forgiven is very unpleasant.
- Parties p. 31
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Published in a deluxe hardback edition for Christmas 2013, to mark the centenary year of Tove Jansson's birth (1914-2014).

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