kullervo

In 1914 while he was still studying at Oxford, J.R.R. Tolkien began work on a manuscript that would eventually inspire Middle Earth and his ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. Although this story was never finished, the 100-year-old manuscript titled ‘The Story of Kullervo’ will soon be published and available in the United States this fall.

Tolkien created The Story of Kullervo’ after his interest in the 19th-century Finnish epic poem, “The Kalevala”. A compilation of folklore and mythology, “The Kalevala” is considered one of the most important works of Finnish literature. It includes creation myths, numerous protagonists and the presence of a magical talisman known as the Sampo.

Tolkein stated, “The germ of my attempt to write legends on my own to fit my private languages was the tragic tale of the hapless Kullervo in the Finnish Kalevala. It remains a major matter in the legends of the First Age (which I hope to publish as The Silmarillion.)”

Here’s the official synopsis for ‘The Story of Kullervo’:

Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. ‘Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny.

Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruelest of fates.

‘The Story of Kullervo’ was published once before in 2010, but this is the first time it will be made available for the general public. Though the story is unfinished, the publication will include some of Tolkien’s margin notes.

Sources: The Verge