So, a week ago Friday I made it down to the Barnes & Noble in Federal Way, where I'd not been in a while, thinking that it being mid-August there was a good chance they might have next year's Tolkien calendar in.* This year the art is by an artist and fantasy writer who's famous in her own country but practically unknown here: Tove Jansson. I'm not that familiar with Jansson's work, having only read one of the Moomintroll books long ago and thinking at the time that Carol Kendall did that sort of thing better.** But she's apparently one of Finland's best-known and most-translated authors,*** so I shd probably give her work another try.
In any case, her illustrations come from the 1962 Swedish edition of THE HOBBIT,**** heretofore mainly known to people by one illustration from it (wargs dancing in the firelight) having appeared in THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT (p. 153) and by its bizarre depiction of Gollum (who strongly resembles one of Sime's pieces from THE GODS OF PEGANA, but clearly cd never have been of hobbit-kind). Oddly enough, the drawings are both childish (in the sense of clearly-geared-to-a-child-audience), yet also quite dark sometimes bleak. It's an odd combination. On the childish side we have the dwarven musicians, complete with Bombur banging away on his drums; on the more solemn side we have the picture of Lake Town, which is almost Escher-like in its brooding staircases going up and up. Both appear mixed in some drawings, a good example of which being the starving dwarves lost in the forest. All in all it's not an art style I enjoy but it does have the virtue of being distinctive.
current reading: BROTHER TO DRAGONS (resumed)
* the nearer B&N nr SouthCenter usually having a slimmer selection, though I did see it there not long afterwards.
**here I'm thinking of A WHISPER OF GLOCKEN and THE GAMMAGE CUP more than the later and lesser THE FIRELINGS
***I haven't been able to find out if she was ethnically a Finn or Swede, just that she was both Swedish-speaking and a lifelong resident of what's now Finland (that is, part of a Swedish-speaking minority in Finland).
****this is not, by the way, the edition that so upset Tolkien (LETTERS.249); that was the original 1947 Swedish edition