Saturday, December 17, 2016

word of the day: titivating


The Snork Maiden immediately took out her looking-glass to see if it was broken, but, thank goodness, the glass was whole and all the rubies were still on the back. But as she was titivating herself, [she spotted] something else. …Something that crept slowly nearer …

definition for titivate:

To make small alterations or additions to one's toilet, etc. so as to add to one's attractions; to make smart or spruce; to ‘touch up’ in the way of adornment, put the finishing touches to. [Oxford English Dictionary]

A friend of my mother gave us two or three of the Moomintroll books so I remember them sitting on the bookshelf at home. I don’t know if my brother ever read them, but I know I didn’t. I may have made an attempt or two but if I did, I didn’t get far.

The library has collected volumes of the Moomintroll comic strip and that proved an easy in. Recently I read Moominpapa’s Memoirs and found I enjoyed Jansson’s prose, too. Will I make it through the whole series? They’re awfully twee. Gentle, cozy, sweet, eccentric. A little precious. Likable. Meandering. I got Comet in Moominland off the Claremont Branch shelf a couple weeks ago and read it on lunches and breaks (alongside a book of essays by Salman Rushdie). 

“Titivate” is a surprising word for a children’s book. When was the last time you saw it? Have you ever? The translator made the choice, not Jansson, at least not that particular word, who knows maybe a similarly unusual choice was made in the original Swedish?

source: Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson
1946. (1959 English translation by Elizabeth Portch)

Farrar Straus Giroux, New York

1 comment:

David Lee Ingersoll said...

I did read the Moomin books. I enjoyed them but most of the details of the stories have left my memory. I've read a couple of the collections of Moomin comics from the library and liked those as well.