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Beren and Lúthien

Beren and Lúthien

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Beren and Lúthien

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4/5 (13 оценки)
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302 страницы
4 часа
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Издано:
1 июн. 2017 г.
ISBN:
9781328784865
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New York Times Bestseller

“A good introduction to LOTR fans nervous about taking on The Silmarillion, and also gives longtime fans a fascinating look at the Tolkiens’ myth-making process.”—EntertainmentWeekly.com 

“A beautiful book.”—San Antonio Express-News

“With eloquence and diligence and care, the son reconstructs and retraces the father’s journey, pursuing the tale through draft after draft as Tolkien pursued his vision of Middle-earth.”—NPR.org
 
The epic tale of Beren and Lúthien became an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of J.R.R. Tolkien’s First Age of the World. Always key to the story is the fate that shadowed their love: Beren was a mortal man, Lúthien an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, imposed on Beren an impossible task before he might wed Lúthien: to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, of a Silmaril.
                  Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, Beren and Lúthien reunites fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, along with the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Christopher Tolkien tells the story in his father’s own words by giving its original form as well as prose and verse passages from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed.
Издатель:
Издано:
1 июн. 2017 г.
ISBN:
9781328784865
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Об авторе

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on the 3rd January, 1892 at Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State, but at the age of four he and his brother were taken back to England by their mother. After his father’s death the family moved to Sarehole, on the south-eastern edge of Birmingham. Tolkien spent a happy childhood in the countryside and his sensibility to the rural landscape can clearly be seen in his writing and his pictures.


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Beren and Lúthien - J. R. R. Tolkien

First Mariner Books edition 2018

All texts and materials by J.R.R. Tolkien © The Tolkien Estate Limited 2017

Preface, Notes and all other materials © C.R. Tolkien 2017

Illustrations including cover © Alan Lee 2017

Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd.

All rights reserved

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to trade.permissions@hmhco.com or to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016.

hmhco.com

® and Tolkien,® Beren® and Lúthien,® are registered trademarks of The Tolkien Estate Limited

First published by HarperCollinsPublishers 2017

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.

ISBN 978-1-328-79182-5

ISBN 978-1-328-91533-7 (pbk.)

eISBN 978-1-328-78486-5

v2.0218

For Baillie

Contents


Cover

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

List of Plates

Preface

Notes on the Elder Days

BEREN AND LÚTHIEN

The Tale of Tinúviel

A Passage from the ‘Sketch of the Mythology’

A Passage Extracted from The Lay of Leithian

The Quenta Noldorinwa

A Passage Extracted from the Quenta

A Second Extract from The Lay of Leithian

A Further Extract from the Quenta

The Narrative in The Lay of Leithian to Its Termination

The Quenta Silmarillion

The Return of Beren and Lúthien According to the Quenta Noldorinwa

Extract from the Lost Tale of the Nauglafring

The Morning and Evening Star

Appendix: Revisions to The Lay of Leithian

Footnotes

List of Names

Glossary

Read More from J.R.R. Tolkien

About the Author and Editor

PLATES

‘yet now did he see Tinúviel dancing in the twilight’

‘but Tevildo caught sight of her where she was perched’

‘no leaves they had, but ravens dark / sat thick as leaves on bough and bark’

‘Now ringed about with wolves they stand, / and fear their doom.’

‘Then the brothers rode off, but shot back at Huan treacherously’

‘On the bridge of woe / in mantle wrapped at dead of night / she sat and sang’

‘now down there swooped / Thorondor the King of Eagles, stooped’

‘fluttering before his eyes, she wound / a mazy-wingéd dance’

Surely that is a Silmaril that shines now in the West?

PREFACE

After the publication of The Silmarillion in 1977 I spent several years investigating the earlier history of the work, and writing a book which I called The History of The Silmarillion. Later this became the (somewhat shortened) basis of the earlier volumes of The History of Middle-earth.

In 1981 I wrote at length to Rayner Unwin, the chairman of Allen and Unwin, giving him an account of what I had been, and was still, doing. At that time, as I informed him, the book was 1,968 pages long and sixteen and a half inches across, and obviously not for publication. I said to him: ‘If and/or when you see this book, you will perceive immediately why I have said that it is in no conceivable way publishable. The textual and other discussions are far too detailed and minute; the size of it is (and will become progressively more so) prohibitive. It is done partly for my own satisfaction in getting things right, and because I wanted to know how the whole conception did in reality evolve from the earliest origins . . .

‘If there is a future for such enquiries, I want to make as sure as I can that any later research into JRRT’s literary history is not turned into a nonsense by mistaking the actual course of its evolution. The chaos and intrinsic difficulty of many of the papers (the layer upon layer of changes in a single manuscript page, the vital clues on scattered scraps found anywhere in the archive, the texts written on the backs of other works, the disordering and separation of manuscripts, the near or total illegibility in places, is simply inexaggerable . . .

‘In theory, I could produce a lot of books out of the History, and there are many possibilities and combinations of possibilities. For example, I could do Beren, with the original Lost Tale*, The Lay of Leithian, and an essay on the development of the legend. My preference, if it came to anything so positive, would probably be for the treating of one legend as a developing entity, rather than to give all the Lost Tales at one go; but the difficulties of exposition in detail would in such a case be great, because one would have to explain so often what was happening elsewhere, in other unpublished writings.’

I said that I would enjoy writing a book called ‘Beren’ on the lines I suggested: but ‘the problem would be its organisation, so that the matter was comprehensible without the editor becoming overpowering.’

When I wrote this I meant what I said about publication: I had no thought of its possibility, other than my idea of selecting a single legend ‘as a developing entity’. I seem now to have done precisely that—though with no thought of what I had said in my letter to Rayner Unwin thirty-five years ago: I had altogether forgotten it, until I came on it by chance when this book was all but completed.

There is however a substantial difference between it and my original idea, which is a difference of context. Since then, a large part of the immense store of manuscripts pertaining to the First Age, or Elder Days, has been published, in close and detailed editions: chiefly in volumes of The History of Middle-earth. The idea of a book devoted to the evolving story of ‘Beren’ that I ventured to mention to Rayner Unwin as a possible publication would have brought to light much hitherto unknown and unavailable writing. But this book does not offer a single page of original and unpublished work. What then is the need, now, for such a book?

I will attempt to provide an (inevitably complex) answer, or several answers. In the first place, an aspect of those editions was the presentation of the texts in a way that adequately displayed my father’s apparently eccentric mode of composition (often in fact imposed by external pressures), and so to discover the sequence of stages in the development of a narrative, and to justify my interpretation of the evidence.

At the same time, the First Age in The History of Middle-earth was in those books conceived as a history in two senses. It was indeed a history—a chronicle of lives and events in Middle-earth; but it was also a history of the changing literary conceptions in the passing years; and therefore the story of Beren and Lúthien is spread over many years and several books. Moreover, since that story became entangled with the slowly evolving ‘Silmarillion’, and ultimately an essential part of it, its developments are recorded in successive manuscripts primarily concerned with the whole history of the Elder Days.

To follow the story of Beren and Lúthien, as a single and well-defined narrative, in The History of Middle-earth is therefore not easy.

In an often quoted letter of 1951 my father called it ‘the chief of the stories of the Silmarillion’, and he said of Beren that he is ‘the outlawed mortal who succeeds (with the help of Lúthien, a mere maiden even if an elf of royalty) where all the armies and warriors have failed: he penetrates the stronghold of the Enemy and wrests one of the Silmarilli from the Iron Crown. Thus he wins the hand of Lúthien and the first marriage of mortal and immortal is achieved.

‘As such the story is (I think a beautiful and powerful) heroic-fairy-romance, receivable in itself with only a very general vague knowledge of the background. But it is also a fundamental link in the cycle, deprived of its full significance out of its place therein.’

In the second place, my purpose in this book is twofold. On the one hand I have tried to separate the story of Beren and Tinúviel (Lúthien) so that it stands alone, so far as that can be done (in my opinion) without distortion. On the other hand, I have wished to show how this fundamental story evolved over the years. In my foreword to the first volume of The Book of Lost Tales I said of the changes in the stories:

In the history of the history of Middle-earth the development was seldom by outright rejection—far more often it was by subtle transformation in stages, so that the growth of the legends (the process, for instance, by which the Nargothrond story made contact with that of Beren and Lúthien, a contact not even hinted at in the Lost Tales, though both elements were present) can seem like the growth of legends among peoples, the product of many minds and generations.

It is an essential feature of this book that these developments in the legend of Beren and Lúthien are shown in my father’s own words, for the method that I have employed is the extraction of passages from much longer manuscripts in prose or verse written over many years.

In this way, also, there are brought to light passages of close description or dramatic immediacy that are lost in the summary, condensed manner characteristic of so much Silmarillion narrative writing; there are even to be discovered elements in the story that were later altogether lost. Thus, for example, the cross-examination of Beren and Felagund and their companions, disguised as Orcs, by Thû the Necromancer (the first appearance of Sauron), or the entry into the story of the appalling Tevildo, Prince of Cats, who clearly deserves to be remembered, short as was his literary life.

Lastly, I will cite another of my prefaces, that to The Children of Húrin (2007):

It is undeniable that there are a great many readers of The Lord of the Rings for whom the legends of the Elder Days are altogether unknown, unless by their repute as strange and inaccessible in mode and manner.

It is also undeniable that the volumes of The History of Middle-earth in question may well present a deterrent aspect. This is because my father’s mode of composition was intrinsically difficult: and a primary purpose of the History was to try to disentangle it: thereby (it may seem) exhibiting the tales of the Elder Days as a creation of unceasing fluidity.

I believe that he might have said, in explanation of some rejected element in a tale: I came to see that it was not like that; or, I realised that that was not the right name. The fluidity should not be exaggerated: there were nonetheless great, essential, permanences. But it was certainly my hope, in composing this book, that it would show how the creation of an ancient legend of Middle-earth, changing and growing over many years, reflected the search of the author for a presentation of the myth nearer to his desire.

In my letter to Rayner Unwin of 1981 I observed that in the event of my restricting myself to a single legend from among the legends that make up the Lost Tales ‘the difficulties of exposition in detail would in such a case be great, because one would have to explain so often what was happening elsewhere, in other unpublished writings’. This has proved an accurate prediction in the case of Beren and Lúthien. A solution of some sort must be achieved, for Beren and Lúthien did not live, love, and die, with their friends and foes, on an empty stage, alone and with no past. I have therefore followed my own solution in The Children of Húrin. In my preface to that book I wrote:

It seems unquestionable, from my father’s own words, that if he could achieve final and finished narratives on the scale he desired, he saw three ‘Great Tales’ of the Elder Days (Beren and Lúthien, the Children of Húrin, and the Fall of Gondolin) as works sufficiently complete in themselves as not to demand knowledge of the great body of legend known as The Silmarillion. On the other hand . . . the tale of the Children of Húrin is integral to the history of Elves and Men in the Elder Days, and there are necessarily a good many references to events and circumstances in that larger story.

I therefore gave ‘a very brief sketch of Beleriand and its peoples near the end of the Elder Days’, and I included ‘a list of all names occurring in the texts with very concise indications concerning each.’ In this book I have adopted from The Children of Húrin that brief sketch, adapting and shortening it, and I have likewise provided a list of all names occurring in the texts, in this case with explanatory indications of a very varied nature. None of this ancillary matter is essential, but is intended merely as an assistance if desired.

A further problem which I should mention arose from the very frequent changes of names. To follow with exactness and consistency the succession of names in texts of different dates would not serve the purpose of this book. I have therefore observed no rule in this respect, but distinguished old and new in some cases but not in others, for various reasons. In a great many cases my father would alter a name in a manuscript at some later, or even much later, time, but not consistently: for example, Elfin to Elven. In such cases I have made Elven the sole form, or Beleriand for earlier Broseliand; but in others I have retained both, as in Tinwelint/Thingol, Artanor/Doriath.

The purpose of this book, then, is altogether different from that of the volumes of The History of Middle-earth from which it is derived. It is emphatically not intended as an adjunct to those books. It is an attempt to extract one narrative element from a vast work of extraordinary richness and complexity; but that narrative, the story of Beren and Lúthien, was itself continually evolving, and developing new associations as it became more embedded in the wider history. The decision of what to include and what to exclude of that ancient world ‘at large’ could only be a matter of personal and often questionable judgement: in such an attempt there can be no attainable ‘correct way’. In general, however, I have erred on the side of clarity, and resisted the urge to explain, for fear of undermining the primary purpose and method of the book.

In my ninety-third year this is (presumptively) my last book in the long series of editions of my father’s writings, very largely previously unpublished, and is of a somewhat curious nature. This tale is chosen in memoriam because of its deeply-rooted presence in his own life, and his intense thought on the union of Lúthien, whom he called ‘the greatest of the Eldar’, and of Beren the mortal man, of their fates, and of their second lives.

It goes back a long way in my life, for it is my earliest actual recollection of some element in a story that was being told to me—not simply a remembered image of the scene of the storytelling. My father told it to me, or parts of it, speaking it without any writing, in the early 1930s.

The element in the story that I recall, in my mind’s eye, is that of the eyes of the wolves as they appeared one by one in the darkness of the dungeon of Thû.

In a letter to me on the subject of my mother, written in the year after her death, which was also the year before his own, he wrote of his overwhelming sense of bereavement, and of his wish to have Lúthien inscribed beneath her name on the grave. He returned in that letter, as in that cited on p. 29 of this book, to the origin of the tale of Beren and Lúthien in a small woodland glade filled with hemlock flowers near Roos in Yorkshire, where she danced; and he said: ‘But the story has gone crooked, and I am left, and I cannot plead before the inexorable Mandos.’

NOTES ON THE ELDER DAYS

The depth in time to which this story reaches back was memorably conveyed in a passage in The Lord of the Rings. At the great council in Rivendell Elrond spoke of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and the defeat of Sauron at the end of the Second Age, more than three thousand years before:

Thereupon Elrond paused a while and sighed. ‘I remember well the splendour of their banners,’ he said. ‘It recalled to me the glory of the Elder Days and the hosts of Beleriand, so many great princes and captains were assembled. And yet not so many, nor so fair, as when Thangorodrim was broken, and the Elves deemed that evil was ended for ever, and it was not so.’

‘You remember?’ said Frodo, speaking his thought aloud in his astonishment. ‘But I thought,’ he stammered as Elrond turned towards him, ‘I thought that the fall of Gil-galad was a long age ago.’

‘So it was indeed,’ answered Elrond gravely. ‘But my memory reaches back even to the Elder Days. Eärendil was my sire, who was born in Gondolin before its fall; and my mother was Elwing, daughter of Dior, son of Lúthien of Doriath. I have seen three ages in the West of the world, and many defeats, and many fruitless victories.’

Of Morgoth

Morgoth, the Black Enemy, as he came to be called, was in his origin, as he declared to Húrin brought captive before him, ‘Melkor, first and mightiest of the Valar, who was before the world.’ Now become permanently incarnate, in form a gigantic and majestic, but terrible, King in the north-west of Middle-earth, he was physically present in his huge fortress of Angband, the Hells of Iron: the black reek that issued from the summits of Thangorodrim, the mountains that he piled above Angband, could be seen far off staining the northern sky. It is said in the Annals of Beleriand that ‘the gates of Morgoth were but one hundred and fifty leagues from the bridge of Menegroth; far and yet all too near.’ These words refer to the bridge leading to the dwellings of the Elvish king Thingol; they were called Menegroth, the Thousand Caves.

But being incarnate Morgoth was afraid. My father wrote of him:

‘As he grew in malice, and sent forth from himself the evil that he conceived in lies and creatures of wickedness, his power passed into them and was dispersed, and he himself became ever more earth-bound, unwilling to issue from his dark strongholds.’ Thus when Fingolfin, High King of the Noldorin Elves rode alone to Angband to challenge Morgoth to combat, he cried at the gate:

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  • (5/5)
    The story of Beren and Luthien is explored through the different editing done by Tolkien, as compiled by his son Christopher. It was interesting to see how the story progressed and changed through time. I knew the basic story from my reading of other Tolkien books, but I found the telling of this tale particularly good in this book. If you're a Tolkien fan, you will want to add this to your collection.
  • (5/5)
    Beren and Lúthien by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the Tales of the Elder Days as touched upon in The Silmarillion.Beren and Lúthien is another story that finally has seen the light of day. I loved reading this tale and learning more about other characters in Tolkien's world. In addition, the poems were beautiful with beautiful prose. I had not realized what an amazing poet Tolkien was. This was an added treat for me.I highly recommend anyone who loves Tolkien's work to read this. You will not be disappointed.
  • (3/5)
    While fascinating to see how Tolkien developed his mythos.... this is a bit of a slog, especially compared to some of the other esoteric "Tales of" or other posthumous pieces of Middle-Earth/Tolkien lore (like Return of the Shadow, Children of Huren, etc.). This is very much a precursor to The Simarillion (which I have yet to read), and from all accounts, its a bit like reading a Latin textbook.... with names thrown about, and with two names per person, or conflicting names and places, etc.

    The actual story parts are interesting and enjoyable. The preambles and stuff, not-so-much.
  • (5/5)
    Beren and Lúthien, J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien, 2017Christopher, son of JRR writes that this will probably be his last effort at editing his father's works...he's 92 as of the publication of this book. Wikipedia says "Tolkien followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a lecturer and tutor in English Language at New College, Oxford, from 1964 to 1975" thus indicating that he shared much of his father's love for English and its history. In fact, he's so well steeped in the mythology and style of his father's works that his annotations read like an extract from the stories themselves.This book gathers together the various references to, and versions of, Beren and Lúthien and presents them—a prose version and a poetic version—with explanatory side-notes. These two versions tell the same story, but with interesting variations in some details as a result of the hit-and-miss attention that Tolkien paid to the works at different times over the years (with the interruption of WWII).Additionally, some of the intriguing references to other characters in the story get fleshed out by inclusion of other tales and other histories dealing with the same time frame of the main story. For example, the references to the history of Huan, the wolfhound that saves the heroes many times over; and Beren's forebears; and the results of the terrible oath that is taken by the sons of the creator of the Silmarils.As much as possible Christopher tries to tie everything into neat packages, but is ultimately defeated by the fact, not just that JRR changed names and heritages of his characters during his life but that he actually stopped working on many of the stories, for various reasons over the many years. It's to Christopher's credit that he doesn't try to fabricate endings, but leaves them as stories, the knowledge of which, has passed from the memory of man.As I said, the fact that Christopher seems to have assumed some of the writing style of his father makes it difficult at times to determine which comments are his and which are the stories themselves. (The book is actually printed with the explanatory comments indented from the stories themselves, so it IS possible to tell which is which.) But if, like me, you get caught up in the narrative you may not readily notice this.As a warning, let it be noted that these are not fairy tales for children—they deal with some pretty horrific evils. Fortunately the tortures are not described in gruesome detail, but they are described: e.g. to get information from the elves Morgoth has captured he has his wolves kill and eat them, one by one, in front of the others, until someone should talk.
  • (3/5)
    For dedicated lovers of Tolkien, this book fills in some of the older lore. For everyone else, it my not hold a great deal of interest. If you've read nothing more than The Lord Of The Rings and you want more, I might suggest The Silmarillon or even The Fall Of Gondolin first, then circle back to this one.As with all the more recent Tolkien books edited by Christopher Tolkien, this one gives over a lot of pages for the preface and numerous explanations and explorations of the history of the work - the various versions and revisions, and why and when Tolkien wrote them. This may not appeal to everyone.A significant amount of this book is also in poetry form, which isn't for me personally but I'm happy to skim over it.If you're a dedicated Tolkien fan, you'll love it - just don't buy it expecting a single 260-page story.
  • (5/5)
    This is a collection of all of the versions of the story of Luthien and Beren that have been publishes or haven't been published before. They are collected by Christopher Tolkien from his father's notes. Included are 4 versions of the tale, written and revised by J. R. R. Tolkien into the version that appears in The Silmarillion. Also included are notes on how the tale developed over time, with fascinating quotes on Tolkien's work. The tale of Beren and Luthien is referred to in the Lord of the Rings when Strider tells the story to the Hobbits. Its likely the Hobbits knew the story anyway and also clear that Aragorn tells the tale because his story is the 3rd union of Elves and Men, where Beren and Luthien were the first. A tragic tale of love and heroism, clearly Aragorn hopes to emulate Beren - but with a happier ending. This story also includes some great non-human characters - Tevoldo, Lord of Cats and Huan, Captain of Dogs. How can you beat that?
  • (4/5)
    The tale of Beren and Lúthien is one of the oldest and most central stories in J.R.R. Tolkien's vast mythology of Middle Earth. This volume is a story within a story. First, Christopher Tolkien chronicles the evolution of the tale, in prose and verse, from its inception over one hundred years ago to its final version decades later. Second is the tale itself, a story of the love between Beren, a mortal man, and Lúthien, an immortal elf. The verse portions are dramatic and beautiful, and lend themselves to reading out loud. The cover art, illustrations, and color plates by Alan Lee (hardcover) add atmosphere to the story.

    For readers new to Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion are the meat and potatoes of his works. Beren and Lúthien is like dessert. As such, it is best not to consume before the main courses.

  • (3/5)
    I'm among the readers who were disappointed with this book. The actual story of Beren and Luthien is only a small portion of the book. I enjoyed it very much though I felt it was more a story for children in the mode of The Hobbit. Most of the book is filled with scraps of other notations made by JRR Tolkien and the usual addendum you find in Tolkien books. I expected something more like The Silmarillion or The Children of Hurin. Also, I'm past the point in my life where I want to write in Dwarvish or runes so deciphering the bits of notations to tie them back to past stories doesn't interest me.
  • (4/5)
    You'll want to take my comments on this one with more than a grain of salt, as I have trouble being objective when it comes to Tolkien, and the story of Beren and Luthien hits me in a soft spot (my younger brother's middle name is Beren, and my sister's is Lorien -- Tolkien was big in my family). This is one of the stories that Sam Gamgee might have been referring to when he and Frodo are traveling to Mount Doom and Sam talks about the adventures in the great legends,”Folk seem to have just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid out that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end.” Beren and Luthien's story, for which we get here a couple choices of endings, was foundational in Tolkien's mythology, echoing aspects of his own life, and within his works in the romance of Aragorn and Arwen. As Christopher Tolkien reminds us,”my father called it 'the chief of the stories of the Silmarillion', and he said of Beren that he is 'the outlawed mortal who succeeds (with the help of Luthien, a mere maiden even if an elf of royalty) where all the armies and warriors have failed: he penetrates the stronghold of the Enemy and wrests one of the Silmarilli from the Iron Crown. Thus he wins the hand of Luthien and the first marriage of mortal and immortal is achieved.”Tolkien apparently began work on the story in 1917, and continued playing with it at least until some point in the 1930's, so there were several versions, as well as additions to both ends of the story, and snippets to be (maybe) inserted at various places. Christopher Tolkien, this book's editor/compiler does a really excellent job of organizing this material so that even readers who are not familiar with the entire mythology of which the story of Beren and Luthien is a part won't feel lost. Or, at least, very lost. The story is presented, mainly, in two works, these being supplemented by additions and variations from other pieces. The first is the earlier form, and is in prose, and the second, broken into sections, is in verse. Both have their charms. I'll admit a preference for the earlier prose version, which is shorter, has little or no swooning, and is, at a few points, laugh-out-loud funny. I was having a little trouble staying focused on the poetic version until I started reading it out loud, with proper dramatic feeling, to my dog. Boy did that help! And my dog, who claims that there are far too few works of epic poetry with dog heroes, loved it! If I set the book aside for a bit he'd start poking me with his sweet wet nose and asking, hopefully, “Isn't it time to get back to the exciting adventures of Huan the Wonderdog?” And, really, he's not exaggerating. Huan may only get second billing on the marquee (well, his picture's on the cover, anyway), but he is the awesomest. Not only is he an amazing warrior, but he's better at planning missions than any of the men or elves he works with, and he has an expert knowledge of healing herbs! Like Aragorn, except tougher, fluffier, and you can ride on his back. As I said, the prose version, The Tale of Tinuviel, comes from The Book of Lost Tales, and is loads of fun. Luthien Tinuviel is very fine heroine – brave, resourceful, etc. – and Beren is no slouch. Though of course it's not primarily humorous, there are some really funny bits, and little of that excessively “high” tone which sometimes leads the more hobbit-like of readers to feel drowsy. Initially this had something of the feel of Norse myth to me, but once I got farther in I decided it might have hints of the Kalevala, a Finnish story. We have giant magical cats and dogs, monstrous wolves... Wait. I just have to say, that Telvido, Prince of the Cats, who disappears in the longer, poetic version is too great a villain to miss. I wish he were on the book cover too.The longer, though incomplete, version of the story is from “The Lay of Leithian.” This is, as I said, Tolkien in his high-toned, archaic style (which sometimes feels a little over the top, but then you come across an amazing word like “quook,” which is, deliciously, the past tense of “quake” and is just what you want to rhyme with “shook,” when you are describing an earthquake, and you forgive him all his excesses). Tolkien never finished any of this stuff to his satisfaction, so it seems unfair to pick much about rhymes and word choices he certainly would have improved upon, given enough time, and the story itself is really grand. Huan the Wonderdog is great in The Tale of Tinuviel, but here he is revealed in all his brilliance. Really, you'll love him. And Luthien and Beren are just as brave and loving and noble as you could ask for. There are romantic vistas, gloomy swamps, dank dungeons, true love, and tragic deaths – the works. Also beautiful colored plates and generous numbers of line drawings. I enjoyed the book very much.
  • (4/5)
    In Beren and Lúthien Christopher Tolkien explores the evolution of his father's story of The Tale of Beren and Lúthien from the original The Lay of Leithian through the Tale of Tinúviel to its final form, which appeared as chapter XIX of The Silmarillion. Unlike The Children of Húrin, in which Christopher Tolkien expanded Chapter XXI of J.R.R. Tolkien's Quenta Silmarillion into a full novel, this work primarily examines how the ideas of Beren, once an elf and later a man, and Lúthien, once called Tinúviel, crystallized. The overall effect is something that will primarily appeal to Tolkien scholars, although the story itself and Tolkien's use of verse are enjoyable to casual readers. Christopher Tolkien fills in background as necessary, such as the significance of the Silmarils and why Beren must steal one from Morgoth. The longest self-contained portion of this book comes from The Lay of Leithian and reads like the epic poem J.R.R. Tolkien intended. Alan Lee, who did the art for The Children of Húrin, continues to capture visually the tone of Tolkien's text. Lee's portrayal of Tinúviel confronting Tevildo, a giant cat in Melko's (Melkor) castle, is delightful all on its own, making it a pity that Tevildo did not continue into later of Tolkien's drafts. Fans of The Silmarillion will enjoy this, but should not expect a coherent narrative.