A story that is 100 years in the telling, fans of JRR Tolkien are finally getting a chance to read ‘Beren and Lúthien‘. The characters were first introduced in ‘The Silmarillion’ though this final version was edited by his son Christopher Tolkien and was released through HarperCollins this past Thursday on the 10th anniversary of the last Middle Earth Book, ‘The Children of Húrin.’ Not only will this work finally be released to the public but it will also include illustrations by Alan Lee. Lee won an Academy Award for what he did in Peter Jackson’s trilogy of films and has been able to visually do a fantastic job of capturing the magic of Tolkien’s work.
This work is a “very personal story” for Tolkien who used his writing to help deal with the horrors of war which he saw firsthand and this one, in particular, was meant to help deal with what he witnessed during the Battle of the Somme.
John Garth is a Tolkien specialist who penned ‘Tolkien and the Great War’ previously mentioned that the author used his writing as an “exorcism” and that “When he came back from the trenches, with trench fever, he spent the winter [of 1916-1917] convalescing. He’d lost two of his dearest friends on the Somme, and you can imagine he must have been inside as much of a wreck as he was physically.”
One of the key scenes in ‘Beren and Lúthien’ came about when JRR’s “wife Edith danced in a glade filled with white flowers” which “Mr. Tolkien felt the kind of joy he must have felt at times he would never feel again.”
For exactly how personal this story is to JRR, the names of these characters are also carved on both his and his wife’s gravestones.
The release includes both the original story as well as how it evolved to become part of ‘The Silmarillion.’
Are you looking forward to reading ‘Beren and Lúthien’? Do you think that you’re more interested in how the story was originally conceived or how it initially appeared in text? Share your thoughts below!
The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year.
Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal elf. Her father, a great elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril.
In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father’s own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.
Published on the tenth anniversary of the last Middle-earth book, the international bestseller The Children of Húrin, this new volume will similarly include drawings and color plates by Alan Lee, who also illustrated The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and went on to win Academy Awards for his work on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Stuart Conover is an author, blogger, and all around geek. When not busy being a father and husband he tries to spend as much time as possible immersed in comic books, science fiction, and horror! Would you like to know more? Follow him on Twitter!