The tales of Moomin were first adapted by the Japanese network as early as 1969. Despite its highly skilled production, the colour anime series was never released outside Japan due to its dramatic changes with the plot, overall atmosphere, and character personalities.
The adaptation I first saw was the later anime television series Moomin, released in the early 1990s. Even then, it wasn’t at all what I had expected; it lacked both popular tropes – duels, superpowers, and transformation – and humour. The adventures were not thrilling enough, and the villains were not evil enough. Moomintroll’s personality, as with his appearance, was ambiguous. The series on the whole was an impenetrable fantasy.
很久之後我偶然讀到一則關於姆明初次出場的故事書《The Moomins and the Great Flood》的趣事。此作成書於1945年二次大戰結束前一個月，並於同年出版，偏偏要等到60年後才於2005年正式翻譯成英語本，亦是最後一本翻譯成英語的姆明著作。如此不尋常的發展，再次引起我的注意。
由《The Moomins and the Great Flood》開始，自然而然終於可以順序讀下去（當然不順序也可以），一頭栽進那個依然有些怪誕陌生的世界。既沒有至善也沒有至惡，姆明的性格依舊彆扭又過於依賴，但比起動畫，故事書賦予了虛構世界應有的想像空間和講故事的長度。
Years later, I came across an anecdote about The Moomins and the Great Flood, the first book to star the Moomins. It was written in 1945 during the last months of World War II, but it wasn’t translated into English until sixty years later in 2005 – the last English translation of the book series.
Intrigued by its development, I started reading The Moomins and the Great Flood as a prelude to the main Moomin books (though of course, there isn’t a prescribed timeline to the books). Delving into the phantasmagorical realm where neither absolute good nor absolute evil existed, Moomintroll, as was his wont, seemed difficult and dependent. Compared to the anime series, I preferred the books’ imagination and depth.
慢慢讀下去也開始了解到姆明，鬱鬱寡歡的特質來自他持有一種世界最好可以恆久不變的想法，期待春天時史力奇平安歸來，夏天可以收到媽媽造的模型船，但終究世界還是會動盪，洪水及在海洋漂浮的母題從《The Moomins and the Great Flood》出現，一直貫穿《Moominpappa’s Memoirs》、《Moominpappa at Sea》，想安於現狀的心底下，似乎知道那是多遙不可及的奢望。
The earliest illustrations, be them watercolour or black ink, are nothing like I have seen before. The oddly-shaped characters, ad hoc and disproportionate as they might be, grow in tandem with the stories – before eventually settling in the manner that we have come to know.
As I read on, I see through Moomintroll’s melancholy: a futile desire for the world to stay constant. He yearns for Snufkin’s safe return in spring and longs to receive Moominmama’s boat model in summer. Yet change is the only constant in the world. Change in the form of floods and drifting at sea, from The Moomins and the Great Flood through Moominpappa’s Memoirs and Moominpappa at Sea, manifests Moomintroll’s existential conundrum: a desire for things to stay the same, born of an understanding that things will not.
而另一個性格鮮明的角色阿美恰恰是姆明的反面，不為任何人而活，說話不留餘地，凡事先作最壞預想，又總能在大多情況發現獨自的樂趣。在《Moominpappa at Sea》一書中，姆明一家來到荒島上一座燈塔，難很發現遮風擋雨的地方，卻發現牆上有一個雀鳥南遷遺下的巢而不敢生火煮食。這時姆明提議稍後才把鳥巢移開來生火，阿美便對姆明說，其實現在或稍後根本沒有兩樣，「你這樣說只是讓自己的良心好過一點而已。」
In stark contrast, Little My is a mischievous little girl with a brave, spunky personality. She enjoys solitude, loves catastrophes, and often says mean things on purpose. In Moominpappa at Sea, the Moomins find lighthouse in the sea, inhabited only by a nest left behind by migrating birds. The Moomins do not want to start a fire near the nest, so Moomintroll suggests they wait a little bit longer, to which Little My replies, “What difference does it make starting a fire now or later? You only say that so you can chuck [the nest] out with a clear conscience.”
Some people say that Tove Jansson has projected half of herself on Moomintroll and the other half on Little My. Together, they represent the true nature of the author. It may sound schizophrenic, but is it not our innate desire – to be carefree, to say things without worrying about their consequences, and to revel in our own paradises?