Jul 5, 2017

Discover | Beren and Lúthien by J.R.R. Tolkien

Any book by J.R.R Tolkien is worth a read but this one, Beren and Lúthien, is pretty special. JRR's son, Christopher draws out a key love story from his father's book The Silmarillion. The story is about an immortal elven maiden, Luthien, sacrificing her immortality in order to marry a mortal man, Beren.

The earliest version of this tale of Beren and Lúthien was written in 1917, when Beren was an Elf not a Man and the equivalent of Sauron was a large evil cat. The story underwent considerable revision throughout Tolkien’s life, and was reworked in both prose and poetry. This new book will demonstrate this evolution.

An interesting fact is that Tolkien related his courtship and marriage of Edith (his wife) to this story. Edith gave up Anglicanism and converted to Catholicism in order to marry JRR, which did take a toll on her. Tolkien self-consciously equated Luthien with Edith and himself with Beren based on a walk they took in a wood while he was recuperating from World War I. He even had “Luthien” inscribed on Edith’s tombstone and “Beren” carved into his own.

Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, Dwarves and Orcs and the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

Beren and Lúthien

by J. R. R. Tolkien
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.
In these post titled 'Discovery (or Up and Coming Reads)', I want to provide you with some suggested reading material. These are books which look interesting to me and that I'd like to share with you. The links will be affiliate links, so if you going to make a purchase at Amazon I'd appreciate you using the link. Doing so will help me buy more books so it should be a win-win for us both.

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