One Child of Húrin Plus Guest Appearances From His Sister

by Arthur B

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Children of Húrin represents a good stab by Christopher Tolkien at reconstructing the legend, but isn't going to set the world on fire.
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You could forgive people for thinking that Christopher Tolkien has been scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to publishing posthumous work by his father. The Silmarillion, as ridiculously dense as it is, was a project which J.R.R. himself was intending to publish at some point, and provides so much vital context to all the strange allusions made in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to matters occurring in the First and Second Ages of Middle Earth that it'd have been a disservice both to Tolkien's intentions and to reader's hopes of understanding half of what Tolkien wrote to leave it unpublished. But Unfinished Tales and the twelve-volume The History of Middle-Earth series were never planned by Tolkien to be published in the form that they were, and contain so much that contradicts the core Middle-Earth texts that it's difficult to say that they were quite so worthwhile.

The History of Middle-Earth, in particular, is likely to be of more interest to people who want to be able to study absolutely everything Tolkien wrote about Middle-Earth for academic purposes than people who actually just want to read the stories as Tolkien intended them to be read. In fact, Christopher Tolkien reveals in his introduction to The Children of Húrin that whilst the elder Tolkien populated the timeline of his secondary creation with a vast number of incidents, he didn't believe all of those incidents were worthy of being worked up into fully-developed stories for publication. Of all the sagas of the First Age, which The Silmarillion covers in summary, Tolkien believed that there were three Great Tales which merited expansion into full narratives; these were the story of Beren and Lúthien, the Fall of Gondolin - and The Children of Húrin, which Christopher Tolkien has attempted to reconstruct from his father's manuscripts with only a minimum of editorial intervention in the form of brief connecting passages to link together the portions of the text into a whole.

The upshot of this is that whilst you could argue whether The Children of Húrin is presented in exactly the form that Tolkien would have chosen to present it if he'd completed it in his own lifetime, and whilst it was always possible that the story he'd have ended up with would have had a bunch of facts changed around (he originally wrote the stories of the First Age back in the 1910s, after all, and kept revising them over the course of six decades), it is at least a newly published Middle-Earth novel of which pretty much all the text was written by Tolkien, and which tells a story which Tolkien was intending to tell to a wider audience than the Inklings crew. We haven't had one of those since The Silmarillion came out... except The Silmarillion was dense, confusing, and whilst informative was not especially entertaining.

Fortunately, The Children of Húrin is much more readable than the denser parts of The Silmarillion. A brief introduction by Christopher Tolkien gives you the lowdown on what exactly is going on with this Morgoth guy and why the elves were pissed off at him enough to leave the realm of the Valar in the West to come to Middle-Earth and fight him, and what's been going on in those wars in the immediate past, so you're not left drowning in an ocean of invented names as you are at points in The Silmarillion. Incidents in the story are actually fully developed to the point where there's actual dialogue, which is such a rarity in The Silmarillion that I was intensely relieved when I got to the first conversation in the book because I knew then that there'd be others.

The story itself is about how Húrin, a great leader of men, is captured in one of the various battles against Morgoth that broke out during the First Age. Morgoth is especially glad to have Húrin as a prisoner, because Húrin is rumoured (correctly) to be one of the very few humans to have ever visited Gondolin, the hidden city of the North ruled by Turgon, one of several elf-kings of the era. Morgoth is ever-fearful of Turgon, for he commands a powerful army well within the borders of the lands controlled by Morgoth, and he hopes that Húrin will betray the location of Gondolin to him. Húrin, however, never knew the true location of Gondolin, having been flown there by the Eagles in a stupor, and in his pride mocks Morgoth to his face instead. Enraged by Húrin's trolling, Morgoth curses Húrin, and tells him that everything that his children Túrin and Niënor will do shall turn to ruin. As a participant in the song of Ainur, Morgoth's hate is written into the very fabric of Middle-Earth, and so it merely takes Morgoth to will doom upon Túrin and Niënor for this to be so.

Morwen, wife of Húrin, was left behind when Húrin went off to war, but the homestead is now threatened by the Easterlings who have forced their way into Húrin's lands. Having little hope that Húrin will return, Morwen sends Túrin, Húrin's son, off to the elven realm of Doriath to be fostered by King Thingol, lord of that realm and ally of Húrin's, whilst she stays with the newborn daughter Niënor to await a chance to travel to Doriath with her, once she is old enough to make the journey. Waiting on his mother and sister to arrive in Doriath, Túrin becomes a well-trained warrior in the service of King Thingol; but the jealousy of one of the elves (most likely inflamed and encouraged by the workings of Morgoth's will) prompts Túrin to flee Doriath under unfortunate circumstances; he falls in with a band of outlaws who he hopes to reforge into a company of orc-hunters and warriors against darkness, and several other misadventures ensue. Eventually, Niënor and Morwen come to Doriath, but finding Túrin missing eventually set forth in the company of elven warriors to try and search for him; the quest goes poorly, and Niënor is so affected by what they encounter that she ends up losing her memory entirely. When Niënor and Túrin finally meet, they do not know each other, and Luke and Leia flavoured naughtiness ensues; but even this happiness is not destined to last, especially not with the intervention of Glaurung, Father of Dragons, one of Morgoth's deadliest servants.

Túrin's part of the story is all awesome - he becomes a brigand, ambushes dwarves, establishes and loses a little bandit-kingdom, is present for the destruction of Nargothrond, wields a cursed black Stormbringer-style sword, and is refreshingly bloodthirsty for a Tolkien protagonist. Unfortunately, he also hogs the spotlight; really, the title of the book ought to be The Child of Húrin Who Was Túrin, With Occasional Input From Niënor. Like Éowyn, Niënor at one point does disguise herself as a warrior so she can go out and actually do stuff; unlike Éowyn, Niënor is at no point permitted to actually achieve any deeds of note. The most she does is go on a cross-country trek in order to watch some other people do something heroic. Then Glaurung looks at her and she goes mad. Compared with Túrin's deeds this is frankly pathetic, but I suppose expected from Tolkien.

If the elder Tolkien's biases remain evident in the text, his obsessions are too. His preoccupation with describing the geography and plant life of particular locations in meticulous detail remains intact through Christopher's editing. There's a bit where Túrin's outlaw band come to a big hill with some red fauna on the top, and one of them says "there's blood on the top of the hill" and the captured dwarf bringing them to the hill mutters about how there isn't, but there will be, and it's all foreboding, which is great except Tolkien ruins the moment by spending a few paragraphs before that describing precisely what that red plant was. Likewise, there is a lot of travelling, likewise there is a lot of attention paid to food, likewise there is lots of gushing over how great lembas is, and how nice the elf realms are, and basically how completely awesome every fucking thing the elves touch is.

Reviewers when The Children of Húrin first came out had a lot to say about how grimdark it was, but even that's not entirely unfamiliar from Tolkien's other work - it's no more grimdark than the rest of the section of The Silmarillion the story takes place in, which is a long portion in which Morgoth cockslaps the elves and then the elves cry and try ineffectually to make him stop and then Morgoth cockslaps them again, and the cockslapping continues until the Valar show up with their cock, which is better than Morgoth's cock because it was forged in the West and is attuned to the intended harmonies of Ilúvatar, and the Valar slap Morgoth with it so hard he is cockslapped out of the world entirely (though not before he bequeathed his cock to Sauron, who used it to cockslap the Numenoreans and the Gondorians until Gollum accidentally cockslapped him). Hilarious cock tangents aside: the tone isn't really that different from that of The Silmarillion or the darker bits of The Lord of the Rings, so anyone expecting a major departure from Tolkien's usual style will be disappointed - The Children of Húrin slots perfectly into his grim Dark Ages myth mode (as opposed to his whimsical fairy story mode).

It has to be said too that it's fairly clear that this story, whilst more developed than most from The Silmarillion, isn't exactly finished either. Major battles and plot events are sometimes narrated in the space of a page or two, whereas comparatively minor incidents (though no incident in the story is especially minor - there's no filler or details inessential to the plot) are narrated in some depth. And there are points where the invented names and places do get over-dense. And one of the woodlands of the First Age is called the Forest of Region, which I am half-convinced is just a placeholder name Tolkien was using until he thought up a proper Elvish term for the place.

But nonetheless: The Children of Húrin is what it is: another Tolkien novel, of as polished a standard as any book completed after an author has died, telling a pretty good story in a never less than satisfactory manner. It is a shame that Niënor couldn't have had more of a spotlight. But you'd have sail off to the West and interrogate Tolkien if you wanted to know more about her.
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Comments (go to latest)
http://baal-ammon.livejournal.com/ at 03:49 on 2011-01-17
I quite like the style of the Silmarillion. The way it's narrated, densely, with little to no dialogue and only glimpses of what happens, does make it seem like a medieval epic.

But I don't recall Morgoth doing much cockslapping after he steal the silmarils. Sure, he occasionnally gets the orcs out to kill some elves, but ultimately, most of the time, he's just happy watching them self destruct.
Only once does he get out of his fortress, for the duel with Fingolfin.

Typhon
Arthur B at 03:55 on 2011-01-17
He doesn't directly do very much cockslapping, but he doesn't need to. Like I said, his cock is part of the very fabric of the world itself, so it takes a mere act of will for his cock to manifest and slap you from out of the astral plane.

In other words, those duels, those volcanic eruptions, those bold orcish victories, and every shitty thing that happens to Túrin and Niënor are all the workings of Morgoth's will - it's Morgoth doing it all, even though he isn't actually standing there cock in hand gloating about it.
I've tried numerous times to read The Silmarillion and it always ends in failure.

The Elves and Tolkein's Elf obsession always fascinated me. Mainly because the elves in folklore are rather treacherous, powerful and amoral. Most of the stories I read about them involved them kidnapping young women (they are still a dying race even in Folklore) or various wayfarers. And they are almost always associated with death.

I wonder what inspired Tolkein to turn these ambivalent folklore spooks into some kind of godly and goodly race.
Arthur B at 08:26 on 2011-01-18
Possibly because he was working from the old Norse tradition, in which the relationship between man and elf is more complicated than "elves bad, man good".

I mean, you can't point at "Folklore" like it's this homogeneous, internally consistent thing, because it just isn't.
http://ruderetum.blogspot.com/ at 14:08 on 2011-01-18
I always really liked Silmarillian, but I have to admit that ti is really slow going, at least in the beginning, when it resembles a monograph on mythology rather than a fictional novel. And although I haven't read this new book, the chapter on Turin and Nienor was one of my favourites when younger. Nowadays I like it because some basic elements are appropriated from the Finnish national epic, The Kalevala and the character of Kullervo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kullervo

It's a shame if Tolkien never made anything more complete of Beren and Luthien as Luthien is very active in her own story. But of course this migh be because she's not merely an elf, but a demi-god on her mothers' side as well. Perhaps that means to imply that if you're living in the middle-earth during the first age, you'd better be a man and lacking that, at least an elf or a goddess. And then you get to fall in love with some random refugee human and relinquish your immortality and family too. Hmm.

To double back, I've always wondered whether there are so many enthusiastic fans of Tolkien in Finland, because he had read the Kalevala in finnish and the sindar language is grammatically based on the finnish language. As a small people, we're always so very excited when someone from the foreign countries is interested in us.
Arthur B at 15:02 on 2011-01-18
Nowadays I like it because some basic elements are appropriated from the Finnish national epic, The Kalevala and the character of Kullervo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kullervo

I noticed that connection, but I thought Moorcock did it better with Elric and Stormbringer. ;)

I don't regret reading The Silmarillion, but only because I reread The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings immediately afterwards. Reading those after covering The Silmarillion and learning the lore of the First Age is like reading them all over again for the first time, for the amount of stuff which seemed kind of random and irrelevant the first time around which all of a sudden makes complete and absolute sense. So I appreciate it for spicing up those works, but I don't especially rate it as a work in its own right.
http://ruderetum.blogspot.com/ at 15:23 on 2011-01-18
I've always been a mythology fan, so that probably helped with the style. In some parts, the narration even serves to help in one's imagination, because you have to do it all yourself and consequently the whole epicness of it all is clearer.

For example the duel between Fingolfin and Morgoth is pretty quickly described, but if you try to imagine it, it can be as awesome as any detailed fight scene. Or where Grorfindel fights a rearguard action agains Gothmog in the fall of Gondolin, it just tells that they fall down from the bridge. But the epic images it generates... I'm not saying that the Silmarillion is a pinnacle of literary form, but it works in some ways really well.

Elric is a better example, I guess in that he is clearly more of an anti-hero than Turin. And like the original Kullervo, his own personality is more in focus, whereas Turin is just, as you put it, cockslapped by Morgoth.
http://orionsnebula.blogspot.com/ at 16:35 on 2011-01-18
Musings,

It's been a while since I read the Silmarillion, but my impression at the time was that Tolkien's Elves are, in fact, treacherous and amoral much of the time. Could you help my failing memory by clarifying what it is about Tolkien's elves that feels really different?
Andy G at 17:08 on 2011-01-18
I do love the Silmarillion, though in terms of denseness and obscurity it stands to the Lord of the Rings as the Lord of the Rings does to the Hobbit.

I do remember though that the Oxford Tolkien Society considers it a travesty, because of course proper Tolkien fans only like the really dense, obscure notes/histories. Geekery plus Oxford oneupmanship is a lethal combination. I wonder what they would think of this.
Arthur B at 17:14 on 2011-01-18
It's been a while since I read the Silmarillion, but my impression at the time was that Tolkien's Elves are, in fact, treacherous and amoral much of the time. Could you help my failing memory by clarifying what it is about Tolkien's elves that feels really different?

I think the big thing about Tolkien's elves that set them apart form, say, those from Norse myth is that in Middle-Earth the elves are literally closer to the Gods than mankind - as in the High Elves went to the West in the Third Age in order to live with the Valar (who are effectively gods), because the Valar loved them that much, whereas mankind were left bodding about in Middle-Earth with the stick-in-the-mud elves who couldn't be arsed to get on a boat.

Later, of course, a bunch of high elves come back East to fight Morgoth and get thoroughly cockslapped and so on, but even though they defy the will of the gods by doing so they have been exalted by their stint in the lands of the Valar. Come the Third Age the elves are basically undergoing their equivalent of the Rapture (though traditionalist English Catholic Tolkien wouldn't have had much truck with such a modern American Protestant invention as the Rapture) but the aura still remains. Most of what men know of the gods, they know from the elves, because there are elves around who've actually met the gods where they live.

Conversely, my understanding of Norse myth is that the elves are in a similar position to men - yeah, they're all magic and shit, but they aren't Odin's special little guys.
http://ruderetum.blogspot.com/ at 17:42 on 2011-01-18
I do not think the elves of Silmarillion are amoral as such. Some of them do evil things and the moral tone of the tales is that those things are wrong and not some fey morality which is incomprehensible to mortal men. In the Silmarillion I think that even the bad elves are more like tragic fallen heroes. Feänor's and his son's fall is not caused by their amorality or evilness, but are the cause of pride and anger. They chose to leave "paradise" to the mortal world because they hungered for the return of the Silmarils and vengeance against Morgoth and their passions led them to become kinslayers and to defy the will of god.

In Tolkiens theology the world is very dualistic. In the beginning Iluvatar and the Ainur sang the song which is the fabric of existence. But for some reason Melkor chose to turn against Iluvatar's composition and introduced disharmony into the song and some other Ainur joined him. In Tolkien's world, Iluvatar's plan is present in the existence of elves and humans, so the elves are clearly on the side of the light or harmony. So while particular humans or elves can be corrupted it is clear that elves as such are moral and good and the moral tone of the stories treat them as moral protagonists.

If they were as capricious and amoral as some traditional fey folk, many actions lauded or decried in the Silmarillion would have to appear to be amoral or strange somehow, which they are not, especially since the Silmarillion is described as elven folklore. The slaughter of the Teleri is treated as deplorable as well as the many betrayals by the sons of Feänor are treated similarly. For additional example, the Silmaril burned Maedhros because of the evils he had committed, so at least they lived in a world where morality was a tangible thing.

A question, does spouting off like this about Tolkien's work signify more or less geekiness to the general population, than doing the same about Naruto or whatever the kid are watching this year?
I can't think of a single Norse myth that has the same amount of sugar coating as a Tolkein story.

Norse myth is singularly preoccupied with the quickness of life and the inevitability of death. So much so, that even their gods have an end. I see the outer dressings of Norse influence as well as Celtic myths in Tolkein's Elves. We can't ignore the religious symbolism added to them as well. The books are drenched with it.

I like Tolkein's Elves even if they strike me as goody goody more often than not. He botched it a bit with their characterization. I find it better to disassociate them from mythology. I like the mythical Elves better.

The extrapolations from Beowulf are very well done. I just reread the Heaney translation and now rereading the LOTR. One day I'm going to force myself to finish The Silmarillon.
Arthur B at 00:09 on 2011-01-19
I like Tolkein's Elves even if they strike me as goody goody more often than not. He botched it a bit with their characterization. I find it better to disassociate them from mythology. I like the mythical Elves better.
Uh, they say "fuck you" to the gods and sail to Middle-Earth in order to fight a centuries-long war with another god. Exactly how much less goody-goody do you want them to be?
http://baal-ammon.livejournal.com/ at 01:48 on 2011-01-19
Also, Thingol is racist. And Turgon's the chief of a fascist insulated utopia. And Fëanor commits genocide to steal some boats after attempting to kill his stepbrother. And Eöl kidnaps whatshername, Aredhel, at some point and rapes her.
And Celegorm and Curufin are honourless bastards... Also there's this other guy Maeglin, the son of Eöl and Aredhel, who wants to rape his cousin Celebrindal and ultimately betrays his people.

Even the backstory of the Lord of the Rings says the elves helped Sauron make the rings of power. Granted, he was in disguise, but they might have suspected something... Actually, Celimbrimbor did, but it was too little too late.

The same could be said of the Numenoreans : as time passes, they get progressively nastier. And the Valar just sit on their arses and do nothing except being sad. And when they actually do something, they end up breaking the continents. And the dwarves are greedy bastards.

Also, everyone is in favour of absolute monarchy.

Actually, the only race in the whole of middle earth that is harmless and "goody goody" is the hobbits. Until Saruman visits the Shire.

« 'Dangerous!' cried Gandalf. 'And so am I, very dangerous: more dangerous than anything you will ever meet, unless you are brought alive before the seat of the Dark Lord. And Aragorn is dangerous, and Legolas is dangerous. You are beset with dangers, Gimli son of Glóin; for you are dangerous yourself, in your own fashion. » (LOTR, the Two Towers, book I)
http://baal-ammon.livejournal.com/ at 01:50 on 2011-01-19
The irony is the actual goody-goody elves, namely the Vanyar, are the ones we hear the least about. As we say : « Les peuples heureux n'ont pas d'histoire ».
http://winterfox.livejournal.com/ at 11:08 on 2011-01-19
Also, everyone is in favour of absolute monarchy.

But in Middle-earth, that's a good thing. Tolkien's writing supports absolute monarchy through and through, and the right to rule by virtue of blood (often virtue being a thing that's inherited genetically, and generally by people who have royal/aristocratic blood; see Aragorn).
http://baal-ammon.livejournal.com/ at 11:36 on 2011-01-19
In middle-earth that's a good thing because we never hear the opinions of the anarcho-syndicalist communes in western Gondor, in Rohan, or in Bree. We're never told what the political system is in Bree, anyway.

Also, whatever happened to the other descendents of the olden kings of Arnor ?

After all, Aragorn is like a descendent of Charlemagne claiming sovereignty over Europe. Except there are millions of his descendents.

Typhon
http://ruderetum.blogspot.com/ at 12:35 on 2011-01-19
It's of course fun to nitpick on fantasy and any literature and think how it works in real life or how uit clashes with our own moral framework. What has to be said in connection with this, that in Tolkien's world there are some significant differences with our reality. Whereas in our world, nobility and royalty is formed of people who actually are not any better than anybody else, even if they have claimed to be through history. In Middle-earth, it is literally how it works. Fingolfin is more powerful and better than others, Aragorn literally has the healing touch of kings and besides is of a race of humans that was literally blessed by gods to be better than everyone else. How would republicanism even work in a world where the king really is blessed and chosen by heavenly forces?

As it comes to elves, I repeat my point earlier, that they can't really be described as amoral or downright evil, because for the most part their downfall is caused by their own very understandable natures and signify more the importance of heeding to one's senses and moral codes rather than succumbing to our baser feelings. So in that sense, Feänor is blinded by his greed for the Silmarils and his need to have vengeance for his father. all of his sons but one go to their graves trying to keep the disastrous oath that binds them to the silmarils. Maeglin was blinded by his jealousy and so on. Thingol was in the end killed because he and the dwarves were corrupted by the silmaril. I mean the whole point of those early stories is moral failure and they are caused by the characters's selfishness and desires. So they are also moral stories in that respect. Evil is a real presence, people are corrupted by it and this is the tragedy and in the end good triumphs over evil.

The thing with the elves and sauron was that ok, the elves should've known better, but they'd been living in peace for a long time and they were intent on making the sweet sweet magic rings. So they did drop the ball, but hey, who wouldn't.

To summarize, the elves aren't clearly good or evil, but are fallible creatures who often fail to do good and even intentionally do evil to serve their needs and in that respect, they are very understandable as tragic figures and not alien at all.
Arthur B at 12:49 on 2011-01-19
What ruderetum said. You can write off a few things like the whole absolute monarchy thing as just the way things work in Middle-Earth or Tolkien's own moral standpoint not chiming well with modern audiences or whatever, but you can't wriggle around the whole kinslaying thing, which is unambiguously presented in the text as being bad.

If the elves are very wise and holy in The Lord of the Rings, it's only because the elves that are left have had a very long time to learn from their unwise and wicked mistakes.
Robinson L at 15:30 on 2011-01-19
Not meaning to beat a point to death, but I think this conversation has been going slightly at cross-purposes.

I don't think Musings and Scribblings was trying to argue that the elves are objectively goody-goody and full of nothing but sweetness and light, but that there is little interpretive space within the text to read them as otherwise. To put it another way, the problem isn't that they are flawless, but that the text treats them as if they are flawless. (Not completely flawless though, as Rudetum deftly illustrates.)

Getting back to the subject of the actual book, my mother and I read it some time ago. The story was decent and knowing Tolkien, I never really expected the female characters to do much of anything. The article title sums it up neatly; good one, Arthur.

But grimdark, ye gods yes. Generalized spoiler alert: I'd be hard pressed to name a story I'm familiar with which has a more completely and unambiguously downer ending. Chris Tolkien even cut the one tiny ray of optimism from the original story (i.e. the sequel where Túrin comes back from the dead at the end of the world to lay the final smackdown on Morgoth).

I guess I'm sort of expecting C Tolkien to crank out Beren and Lúthien and the Fall of Gondolin in the next couple years. But first, it seems he's published a non-Middle-Earth story of his father's: a retelling of the legend of Sigurd, which I found out about a mere seventeen months after its' release. And now if you'll excuse me, I shall crawl back under my rock.
Arthur B at 16:25 on 2011-01-19
But grimdark, ye gods yes. Generalized spoiler alert: I'd be hard pressed to name a story I'm familiar with which has a more completely and unambiguously downer ending. Chris Tolkien even cut the one tiny ray of optimism from the original story (i.e. the sequel where Túrin comes back from the dead at the end of the world to lay the final smackdown on Morgoth).

FWIW, I think that edit is reasonable because Tolkien wasn't entirely consistent as to which character got to off Morgoth in Middle-Earth's Ragnarok equivalent. As I understand it, there's enough uncertainty and contradiction in his writings on the end of Middle-Earth that Christopher Tolkien decided to drop the prophecies relating it entirely from The Silmarillion rather than make the call, especially since other bits of The Silmarillion would contradict it.
http://ruderetum.blogspot.com/ at 17:06 on 2011-01-19
So it seems that the Silmarillion is told and described in a tone that is very heroic and overtly infatuated with elves, but the plot has tragic elements. It may be that the actions and events unfold according to our moral expectations, like I argued before, which makes the story moral in a sense, but the language used resembles those mythological tales, where the knights or whoever act like incredibly violent jerks, but the tone is that of heroworship. And that makes for some dissonance in modern readers. At first springs to mind the Nibelungenlied, where everybody is pretty horrible, but it seems they're okay if they're just really hardcore about it and hard to kill.

I have to read that Sigurd re-telling, I always enjoyed those children's books by Tolkien which had nothing to do with Middle-earth.
http://baal-ammon.livejournal.com/ at 17:12 on 2011-01-19
The Silmarillion was supposed to be elven legends from the first age, so that's more or less the goal.


Typhon
Robinson L at 18:02 on 2011-01-19
Arthur: As I understand it, there's enough uncertainty and contradiction in his writings on the end of Middle-Earth that Christopher Tolkien decided to drop the prophecies relating it entirely from The Silmarillion rather than make the call

Ah yes, I recall reading something to that effect at the time, I just forgot the relevant details. Thank you, Arthur.

I don't mean to criticize Christopher Tolkien. He probably made the right call, all things considered, and it's entirely possible his dad would've done the same, had gotten the book published in his lifetime.

So I'm not trying to claim there's actually a problem just … Yeesh, what a bleak story. (Though now I have thought of one considerably bleaker: 1984.)
Cressida at 00:27 on 2011-01-26
FWIW, I think that edit is reasonable because Tolkien wasn't entirely consistent as to which character got to off Morgoth in Middle-Earth's Ragnarok equivalent.

Do tell! I haven't read all of the History of Middle-Earth. Who are the other candidates? I'd love it if someone other than Túrin got the honor. Far from finding that prophecy to be a ray of hope, it irks me to no end that such a self-absorbed prick with no redeeming features* is supposed to be the greatest hero ever produced by the human race.

And I like Tolkien's writing on the whole, a lot; I just simply cannot hack the story of Túrin because I hate the main character so very very much.

*Disclaimer: My opinion only, but a strongly-held one.
Arthur B at 09:56 on 2011-01-26
I've not read any of The History of Middle-Earth, to be honest - 12 volumes is a bit too much for me. This is just based off what I've gleaned off Wikipedia. The Fate After Death section on Turin's article outlines that Tolkien was pretty sure something good was going to happen to Turin after death but never quite settled on what; sometimes he gets to kill Morgoth, sometimes he just fights dragons, sometimes he and his sister get purged of all that sticky incest and get to go to Heaven. The article on the end of the world itself suggests that whilst Tolkien at one point had a very clear idea of who would kill who at the end of days, he got fuzzier about it later in life.
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