Best remembered for her Moomin books, the Finnish writer Tove Jansson (1914-2001) is also celebrated for her adult fiction. But where do books for children end, and books for adults begin? Can an author’s writing invite the states of adulthood and childhood to merge and address each other? Jansson was inspired to create the Moomins after an argument about the philosopher Immanuel Kant; The Summer Book, a luminous novel for adults, explores the relationship between a six-year-old girl and her aging grandmother. Ali Smith is a prizewinning novelist, and has written introductions to several of Jansson’s books. Thomas Teal, who spent time with Jansson on her summer island in the 1970s, has translated six of her books, including The Summer Book. In 2009 he won the Bernard Shaw Prize for his translation of her novel Fair Play. To celebrate Jansson’s centenary, in a discussion chaired by Kate Kellaway, Smith and Teal look at her life and work, and the effect her characters have on readers of all ages.
Recorded on Wednesday 21 May 2014.