Opinions on the Beren and Lúthien book?

Discussion in 'Other Works by J.R.R. Tolkien' started by Yalerd, Jan 20, 2018.

  1. Yalerd

    Yalerd Thinker

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    What are your opinions on the Beren and Lúthien book that came out?

    I was a bit disappointed. It was so dry. I suppose I was looking for an actual story with narrative like The Children of Húrin. This was a collection of all JRRT's different versions of B&L. Still great, glad I own it. Just seems that Christopher is petrified of taking any sort of liberty with his fathers work, with the fear of leaving anything out JRRT may have favored.
     
  2. Starbrow

    Starbrow Tolkien Fan

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    It wasn't really anything new. It's kind of nice to have all the versions of the story in one place. But it is more a scholarly work than a narrative.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
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  3. Prince Ashitaka

    Prince Ashitaka Member

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    I'm the same with you, it was rather disappointing. I was expecting something with a narrative just like Children of Hurin.

    The reason why this was constructed as a story was because there are just too many versions or variations of the story and there's no real way to properly construct a narrative out of it.
     
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  4. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    Christopher Tolkien and Guy Kay did invent part of the Fall of Doriath, for notable example, but true he did come to regret this.

    Anyway I think CJRT must have realized he would probably be criticized, in some measure negatively, no matter what path he chose, with respect to taking liberties (of a certain kind) or sticking tight to JRR Tolkien-made passages.

    And at first he imagined publishing a sort of condensed external history of the Silmarillion, but I think Guy Kay was right, especially at this point in the 1970s at least -- give readers a tale to read.

    CJRT has now delivered both, and then some!

    It seems to me that the advertising could have been clearer (at times), regarding the content of Beren and Luthien. Though in any event, some new Alan Lee!
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018

  5. Prince Ashitaka

    Prince Ashitaka Member

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    Sorry for my ignorance who is Guy Kay? Also where does it mention Christopher invented Fall of Doriath and regretted it? Is there a a Silmarillion reader's guide?
     
  6. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    Hullo again Prince Ashitaka.

    Guy Gavriel Kay is the author of a number of fantasy books and helped Christopher Tolkien with the construction of the 1977 Silmarillion. In The History of Middle-Earth series, Christopher Tolkien explains about the The Ruin of Doriath:

    "This story was not lightly or easily conceived, but was the outcome of long experimentation among alternative conceptions. In this work Guy Kay took a major part, and the chapter that I finally wrote owes much to my discussions with him. It is, and was, obvious that a step was being taken of a different order from any other "manipulation" of my father’s own writing in the course of the book: even in the case of the story of The Fall of Gondolin, to which my father had never returned, something could be contrived without introducing radical changes in the narrative.

    It seemed at that time that there were elements inherent in the story of the Ruin of Doriath as it stood that were radically incompatible with "The Silmarillion" as projected, and that there was here an inescapable choice: either to abandon that conception, or else to alter the story. I think now that this was a mistaken view, and that the undoubted difficulties could have been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the bounds of the editorial function."

    I think, for instance, that it was likely Thingol was not to be slain in his halls. In The Book of Lost Tales he was not. Subsequent mentions are brief enough, but a seemingly later notation appears to point to something like this still being in play.

    "In The Tale of Years my father seems not to have considered the problem of the passage of the Dwarvish host into Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian, but in writing the word "cannot" against the D version (p. 352) he showed that he regarded the story he had outlined as impossible, for that reason. In another place he sketched a possible solution (ibid.):

    "Somehow it must be contrived that Thingol is lured outside or induced to go to war beyond his borders and is there slain by the Dwarves. Then Melian departs, and the girdle being removed Doriath is ravaged by the Dwarves."

    There are others matters when one compares the extant texts to the constructed version, this being only one example.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  7. Prince Ashitaka

    Prince Ashitaka Member

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    Hey,

    Thanks, Galin for this clear and concise clarification again. Always a knowledgable elf you are ;)

    It's really surprising as I didn't know Christopher had invented a part of Fall of Doriath. But I do like the story better with Thingol being slain by the Dwarves within his own halls rather than going out for battle.
     
  8. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    Thanks for the kind words Prince! And if interested, in early versions (I updated names in almost all cases)...

    spoiler alert space

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    ... Thingol, wearing the Nauglamir, is out on a hunt, noted in BOLT as a yearly hunt in memory of the great wolf-hunt of Beren, and he's joined by Mablung, who tells the king that Huan is in Doriath too.

    The scene moves to Melian. Doriath is entered by hostile folk due to the help of a treacherous Elf who had been "bitten by the gold-lust" of Glaurung's hoard. This Elf had led a host through the magic of Melian. Melian speaks to another Elf who was in league with the baddies too (including Orcs): "Get thee now gone with thy foul Orcs, lest Tinwelint [Thingol] coming repay thee bitterly"

    The Elf laughs (but ill at ease, and does not look at Melian), saying: "Nay but he is already come." The Dwarf-lord of Nogrod enters (called Naugladur in the early tale, and at least at one point referred to as king), wearing the Nauglamir and bearing the head of Thingol "crowned and helmed in gold". Thingol's fate is soon told.

    While on the hunt, Thingol rests amid mirth and laughter, but suddenly the king and his company are surrounded by foes. Huan is heard baying. Thingol and Mablung fall side by side, and the dwarf Naugladur only beheads an already slain Thingol, not daring the king's sword nor the axe of Mablung [Tolkien also noted a direction here: the story was to be that the Nauglamir caught in the bushes and held the king].

    Huan escapes; Melian too, as when her foes try to seize her they "groped as if in sudden dark, or stumbled and fell tripping each the other..." Christopher Tolkien comments that Melian's "protective magic was easily -- too easily -- overthrown by the simple device of a single treacherous Elf (...) this was evidently unsatisfactory"

    Later, with respect to this "unsatisfactory" comment I think, CJRT refers to the "cannot" that Tolkien wrote against an entry for year 503 in a version of The Tales of Years, which read: "The Dwarves of Belegost and Norgrod invade Doriath" (Tolkien also penciled an X here)...

    ... and thus we come to Tolkien's note as I quoted in my previous post, where we have Melian departing before Doriath is ravaged by the Dwarves. Along with the BOLT description, there were at least two other, but brief, mentions of Thingol's hunt and treacherous Elves helping the ruin of Doriath...

    ... but The Tale of Years "cannot", and note, are later than these sources, Tolkien still trying to find the "true" story here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  9. Prince Ashitaka

    Prince Ashitaka Member

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    Galin, again thanks for showing us this version. I have to get the History of Middle Earth and read this thoroughly.

    Really appreciate your invaluable knowledge :cool:
     

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