Tolkien’s novel published after 100 years

 

After a hundred years since J.R.R Tolkien began working on his book ‘Beren and Lúthien’, it was finally published yesterday on June 1st.

The novel was edited by Christopher Tolkien, Tolkien’s son who also edited the posthumous novel ‘The Silmarillion’.

The book gives us a closer look at the story and romance of Beren and Lúthien, an elf and a human, who featured heavily in ‘The Silmarillion’.

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Official cover for ‘Beren and Lúthien’ labelled for reuse from Google.

Tolkien scholar John Garth said that the novel was written after Tolkien returned from the Somme in World War I.

“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.” Mr Garth said.

Mr Garth also said Tolkien watched his wife Edith dance in a glade of white flowers on a trip to East Yorkshire, which later become one of the pivotal scenes in the story.

That is why many, including myself, believe it was a dedication to his wife.

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Tolkien’s grave where his wife and himself are named Luthien and Beren. Photo by Mike Knell, used from flickr with permission

Tolkien has been one of the most influential fantasy writers of our modern times, and much of Tolkien’s work is inspired from the horrors he experienced in war.

I won’t deny that he is a product of his time, but he makes beautiful comments on the human condition, and of our capacity for destruction and recreation.

This gift for story-telling and powerful metaphor about human nature is so evident in his more famous works ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

I am excited and eager to pick up a copy of ‘Beren and Lúthien’ from my local QBD bookstore and decide for myself whether it’s a truly great fantasy story with new twists and authenticity, or if it simply relies on Tolkien’s past success and fame.

I hope that this new novel stays true to Tolkien’s wonderful allegories for human nature, whilst also innovating and expanding on these concepts.

After the news last week about recovering Sylvia Plath’s poems, and more news this week about an undiscovered Edith Wharton play being found in Texas archives, literature is alive and thriving with discoveries from the past greats of story-telling.

Is anyone else as excited as me about all these discoveries and new content? Or do you think we should stick to enjoying new and modern works?

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