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Beren and Lúthien

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This article is about the book published in 2017. For the the chapter in The Silmarillion, see Of Beren and Lúthien.
Beren and Lúthien
Beren and Lúthien.jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
IllustratorAlan Lee
PublisherHarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released1 June 2017
FormatHardcover, E-book, Deluxe edition

Beren and Lúthien is a book edited by Christopher Tolkien. The book draws from different versions of J.R.R. Tolkien's tale of Beren and Lúthien.


[edit] From the publisher

Painstakingly restored from Tolkien's manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully 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.

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.

[edit] Conception and evolution

The first iteration of the tale of Beren and Lúthien was written in late 1917[1] and was one of the first tales written by J.R.R. Tolkien which would form part of his legendarium. Tolkien later erased this original draft and wrote over it; the resultant text constitutes the earliest surviving copy of the tale, and was named "The Tale of Tinúviel".[1][2] There are a number of differences present in this early text when compared to the tale in the published version of The Silmarillion. Notably, Beren is an Elf, the character of Felagund is not present, and there is no mention of Nargothrond. This version includes a narrative predecessor to Sauron: Tevildo, Prince of Cats.

In 1926, the tale was incorporated into the earliest known version of what would become The Silmarillion, namely, the Sketch of the Mythology, by Tolkien. This was written as a brief synopsis of events, and would be the first in a line of directly evolving texts that would culminate in the final, published version of The Silmarillion. A notable alteration from the Tale of Tinúviel is that Tolkien had changed Beren to be a man.[3]

During this time, Tolkien composed The Lay of Leithian (from 1925[4] to 1931[5]), a poem telling the tale of Beren and Lúthien, which was refined to include the characters Felagund, Celegorm and Curufin, and the Necromancer Thû, the direct predecessor to the character Sauron. Tolkien abandoned the Lay before its completion.[5] Nonetheless, it is still an extensive piece of work, standing at over 4,000 lines long.[6]

Subsequent to the Sketch of the Mythology, the Quenta Noldorinwa was written in 1930. This was "the only complete and finished version of The Silmarillion" Tolkien wrote.[7] As in the Lay of Leithian, the character of Felagund is present in the story of Beren and Lúthien. The next main iteration in development of the tale was also the final version, as found in the Quenta Silmarillion.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Beren and Lúthien, "Beren and Lúthien: [Unnamed introduction]"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "I. The Tale of Tinúviel": "Notes and Commentary"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Beren and Lúthien, "A Passage from the ‘Sketch of the Mythology’"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Beren and Lúthien, "A Passage from the Lay Of Leithian"
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "III. The Lay of Leithian", pp. 150-151
  6. Power, Rebecca. "Tolkien's Penchant for Alliteration: Using XML to Analyze The Lay of Leithian." Journal of Tolkien Research 11.1 (2020): 7.
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Beren and Lúthien, "A Passage Extracted from the Quenta"