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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Of Beren and Luthien

Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 23 2012, 2:45am

Post #1 of 12 (878 views)
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Of Beren and Luthien Can't Post

The tale of Beren and Luthien is one of my favorite, along with the other two Great Tales. Obviously, The Children of Hurin was written in a fuller and more detailed fashion than most of the other tales. Other stories to get the same treatment are the beginning of a new version of The Fall of Gondolin, the abandoned but completely new Wanderings of Hurin, and another less-known work by the name of The Mariner's Wife.

The Children of Hurin has now been completed by the love and labour of Christopher Tolkien, much to my great pleasure.

But I must now wonder about the course of the writing of the tale of Beren and Luthien. In the forward to The War of the Jewels, Christopher made mention of "an abandoned prose saga of Beren and Luthien" that was written in the aftermath of the completion of The Lord of the Rings. What is this? I have wondered about it for many years. It seems amazing to me that of all the stories of the Elder Days, this new telling should be left unpublished.

I seem to recall reading somewhere in HoME that this telling reached only to Beren's entrance into Doriath. I can't remember for sure, and I wouldn't even know where to find it. Does anyone know anything about this expanded version? Was it used as part of the published Silmarilion?

I know, I know, so many questions, and rambling ones at that, but I'm just so curious about it. I hope some of you out there have some info for me Smile

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales


Elthir
Gondor

Oct 23 2012, 12:04pm

Post #2 of 12 (423 views)
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the long prose Beren and Luthien [In reply to] Can't Post

Christopher Tolkien notes that this text was not known to him when the Silmarillion was prepared for publication, and also that '... it is so closely based on the rewritten form of the Lay as to read in places almost as a prose paraphrase of the verse.' Christopher Tolkien, commentary, The Lost Road And Other Writings

And as you say, although a substantial text it goes no further than the betrayal by Dairon to Thingol of Beren's presence in Doriath.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 23 2012, 1:17pm

Post #3 of 12 (358 views)
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I knew I had read something like that [In reply to] Can't Post

I just couldn't remember where. Is that all there is to say, though?

I find it odd that we were never given that prose version. With all the other tales, and even notes, I can't imagine why not this as well.

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 25 2012, 8:14pm

Post #4 of 12 (327 views)
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Where is geordie? [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought perhaps he would have some knowledge of this.

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales


Elthir
Gondor

Oct 26 2012, 4:27am

Post #5 of 12 (343 views)
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browsing through books I bet [In reply to] Can't Post

I asked geordie to find something in his library... knowing this would give me the chance to answer while he was thus occupied.

I told him I was 'Hans Bookman' though, and simply handed him a paper with the words Þiss boc iss nemmnedd Orrmulum. The false name (Bookman) he will probably see through, and return in no time.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 26 2012, 1:34pm

Post #6 of 12 (295 views)
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I hope he returns soon [In reply to] Can't Post

But I have no idea what you wrote in that other language Angelic

Just kidding, you said something about a book. But that's all I got. Smile

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales


geordie
Tol Eressea

Oct 26 2012, 7:26pm

Post #7 of 12 (320 views)
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Hullo [In reply to] Can't Post

 -here I am. That quote: 'Þiss boc iss nemmnedd. orrmulum; means 'This book is named Ormulum' - the next bit goes
'Forr þi þatt orrm itt wrohhte.' which, I guess, means 'for it was written by Orm'.

The Ormulum is a series of homilies written by an Augustine canon called Orm in the first part of the twelth c; the unique manuscript is held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and is called 'Bodleian MS. Junius I'. The language is partly phonetic, IIRC, and Tolkien used to lecture on it at Oxford.

I wrote a thread on it in another place - http://www.lotrplaza.com/archive7/forum_posts.asp?TID=227754&OB=ASC

- though, none of this has anything to do with Beren and Luthien! (or at least, not much) Tongue

As for the prose 'Beren and Luthien' - I can't help much there, I'm afraid. Scull and Hammond have a very good entry on the subject in their two-volume work 'The JRR Tolkien Companion and Guide'. They point readers to HoMe Vol. V, pp. 295-306, which basically contain the info. which you and Elthir have already given. I'm afraid I don't know any more.


(This post was edited by geordie on Oct 26 2012, 7:28pm)


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 26 2012, 9:03pm

Post #8 of 12 (249 views)
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Thanks for the help [In reply to] Can't Post

It's really too bad that we've not been privy to this telling. We basically been given every other scrap of Middle-earth narrative. It's a shame this has been withheld. Unsure

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales


Elthir
Gondor

Oct 27 2012, 2:25pm

Post #9 of 12 (261 views)
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Just guessing [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm guessing we fans might never see it because of this description: '... it is so closely based on the rewritten form of the Lay as to read in places almost as a prose paraphrase of the verse.'

Now of course reading verse is different from reading prose, and there are some who don't like reading verse, but the implication seems to be that there is nothing very different of note otherwise, with respect to the tale as a tale, and it's only a part of the story too (not that these things weren't obvious enough I guess).

That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see it, or you or many other folk of course, but as I say I'm just guessing that this -- possibly plus considerations of length within each volume of HME, is why it was not published in The Lost Road or some other volume.

Do we know when Christopher Tolkien 'found' it? I mean outside of after the Silmarillion was prepared for publication and before The Lost Road was published. I don't remember, although I think it was written, at least in part, on the back of something else... perhaps on one of the versions of the Annals if I recall correctly, without checking The Lost Road And Other Writings again...

... which is all the way in the next room so there's no way I can easily get to it again Wink


(This post was edited by Elthir on Oct 27 2012, 2:34pm)


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 27 2012, 3:40pm

Post #10 of 12 (251 views)
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Even if it were so close [In reply to] Can't Post

I would love to read it. As you said, prose and poetry are very different reads.

And since it's Tolkien, I want to read it just because of his mastery of language.

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales


Elthir
Gondor

Oct 27 2012, 6:02pm

Post #11 of 12 (255 views)
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Just dreaming [In reply to] Can't Post

What I can imagine is a special illustrated volume (with Alan Lee pencils and a few paintings to 'match' Children of Hurin?) of the Beren and Luthien poetry -- with less commentary, considering HME III already took care of that -- with the prose version as a special bonus.

That would offer a couple new things if the poetry is the same, although I'm just dreaming.

And I'm certainly very happy with works like Sigurd and The Fall of Arthur... and whatever!


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 27 2012, 6:08pm

Post #12 of 12 (427 views)
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That would be brilliant [In reply to] Can't Post

Ever since The Children of Hurin, I've been waiting for other tales to get a similar treatment. I think one for Beren and Luthien would be brilliant, even if it's just the poetry version with the prose tale appended. It could be amazing, but does run the risk of double-dipping, I suppose.

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales

 
 

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