The Children of Húrin

The New Book "The Children of Húrin" Edited by Christopher Tolkien
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The Children of Húrin

Postby Philipa » Mon Jan 01, 2007 12:14 am

The Children of Húrin

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Glaurung's Death Throes

© Iolanthe



With the anticipation of the new book The Children of Húrin edited by Christopher Tolkien being published in April 2007, we have decided to open this thread to catch news and any thoughts our membership may have.

Our friend and fellow member Beren who runs the Tolkien Library found some great information at Digg.com. Although this only mentions the U.K. release you can also now pre-order from the U.S. Amazon as well.

Christopher Tolkien has now succeeded in assembling the multiple variants, unfinished pieces, and outlines of the tale of the Children of Hurin to produce a standalone and complete version, entirely in the author's original words. The work therefore is accessible both as a new and complete version of the text for the Tolkien scholar, and as an entirely new tale from Middle-earth for the Tolkien reader who is not familiar with the great tales and mythology that are the roots of "The Lord of the Rings". Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of The Children of Húrin will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, dragons and Dwarves, eagles and Orcs, and the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien.

Túrin is born into a Middle-earth crushed by the recent victory of the Dark Lord, Morgoth, and his monstrous army. The greatest warriors among Elves and Men have perished and Túrin’s father, Húrin, has been captured. For his defiance, Húrin’s entire family is cursed by Morgoth to be brought down into darkness and despair. But, like his father, Túrin refuses to be cowed by Morgoth and as he grows so does the legend of the deadly hero. In a land overrun with marauding Orcs, Túrin gathers to him a band of outlaws and gradually they begin to turn the tide in the war for supremacy of Middle-earth.
Then Morgoth unleashes his greatest weapon: Glaurung, Mightiest of Dragons, and he proves an unstoppable foe. As the Dragon carves a fiery swathe through Middle-earth there remains only one man who can slay him, but to do that he will first have to confront his destiny.

The Children of Húrin was one of three Great Tales begun by J.R.R. Tolkien as he recovered from the horrors of the First World War, and he worked on refining and improving it for the rest of his life. This tragic tale of adventure, heroism, suffering and love stands as one of the finest expressions of his skills as a storyteller and the narrative is as powerful as anything contained within The Lord of the Rings.

Now fully reconstructed by Christopher Tolkien from his father’s manuscripts, it can finally be enjoyed as the author originally intended. The book will be published in April 2007, in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand by HarperCollinsUK, and in the United States, by Houghton Mifflin. It will be illustrated with colour plates by the renowned artist Alan Lee, and contain a map drawn by Christopher Tolkien of Beleriand, as well as editorial notes on the text in Appendices.

Summary

• The first complete standalone Middle-earth book by J.R.R. Tolkien since The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. posthumous Silmarillion in 1977.

• Includes a distinctive new map of the region by Christopher Tolkien, who drew the original maps for The Lord of the Rings more than 50 years ago.

• Jacket, colour paintings and black and white drawings by Alan Lee, illustrator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and Oscar®-winning designer of the film trilogy.

• The Lord of the Rings was already acclaimed worldwide as the most popular book of the 20th Century before the blockbuster films in 2001-3 broke new ground and inspired millions more to read J.R.R. Tolkien's books – an additional 50 million copies were sold, leaving new fans wanting more.

• The Children of Húrin will be published simultaneously worldwide in a truly global publishing event.


Also provided by Beren is a wonderful jacket cover sneak peak for the book for the Dutch version.

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* click on thumbnail for larger image *

We all look forward to even more Tolkien stories...it hardly seems possible. This could very well be the last of Tolkien's work we see come into print in our time.
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:59 pm

Oh wow!!! Lovely (and scary) Alan Lee painting :D .
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Postby Lindariel » Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:43 pm

Yes indeed. I believe I shall have to buy this one, if only for the lovely Alan Lee drawings. I am not particularly fond of the Turin Turambar tale, especially with the unknowingly incestuous siblings (shudder). But I do understand that Tolkien included this tale to act as the Middle-earth "precursor" for the incestuous relationship between Sigmund and Signy in the Volsunga Saga, (which becomes Siegmund and Sieglinde in Wagner's Ring cycle). He wanted his Middle-earth to be seen as the ancient "source" of all of the great Northern myths.
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Jan 04, 2007 9:47 am

That's interesting, Lindariel. I knew he based Turin's story on the story of Kullervo from the Kalevala, which also involves brother/sister incest, but I hadn't realised that he wanted his version to 'be' the original source of the Sigmund and Signy stories (and, logically, the Kullervo story too, I suppose). It makes sense but what a tangled web he was weaving!
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Postby Beren » Thu Jan 04, 2007 11:01 am

I'm looking forward to this tale! It is my quest to find out all i can about this book. I have already pre-ordered the hardback, the deluxe edition and am now waiting for more info about the signed deluxe edition... I just neeeeed to have that one.
April will be very exciting!
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Postby Lindariel » Thu Jan 04, 2007 4:17 pm

Iolanthe wrote:That's interesting, Lindariel. I knew he based Turin's story on the story of Kullervo from the Kalevala, which also involves brother/sister incest, but I hadn't realised that he wanted his version to 'be' the original source of the Sigmund and Signy stories (and, logically, the Kullervo story too, I suppose). It makes sense but what a tangled web he was weaving!


The Professor very cleverly wove in archetypes for almost every mythic figure from the Kalevala to the Norse legends to the Volsunga/Nibelung Saga to the Tuatha De Danann and the Sidhe to the Greek and Roman pantheon of gods/goddesses to the Arthurian and Carolingian legends to Biblical tales of Solomon's magic Ring, etc.

In a sense, he wanted his "mythology of England" to be part of and tie into all of the myths associated with greater Europe. Karl Jung would say that the Professor tapped into all of the significant archetypes from our collective unconscious -- the benevolent magician/god, the evil sorceror/smith, the warrior/priest/king, the prince and the princess, the great serpent, the all-powerful talisman, etc.

Numenor is the precursor of Atlantis, for instance. Aule's creation of the Dwarves echoes Prometheus. Turin is the archetype for almost every "dragon-slayer" in northern myth. Aragorn is the archetype for every good and wise King who emerged from obscurity to unite his people, generally by virtue of the power of his magical sword (Arthur, Sigurd, Charlemagne, Dietrich von Berne). In Gandalf, we see both Merlin and Odin.

And yet, despite all these "echoes," Professor Tolkien's story is still completely and uniquely his -- absolutely a work of genuis -- because in his world ultimate power must be rejected/destroyed rather than found/taken, the salvation of the world is achieved through mercy not strength/might, etc.
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“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

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Postby Merry » Thu Jan 04, 2007 6:37 pm

Great summary, Lindariel. I'm almost completely unfamiliar with all those sources, so this is new learning for me.

One would have to think that JRRT's experience of WW1, 'the war to end all wars', might have influenced him to look at all the legendary stories through a new lens. His Christianity probably played a role here as well.

Huan the Wonder-Dog is being discussed in another thread. Is there anything in all the source material to explain his presence in the root myth?
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Postby Beren » Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:58 pm

Lindariel wrote:And yet, despite all these "echoes," Professor Tolkien's story is still completely and uniquely his -- absolutely a work of genuis -- because in his world ultimate power must be rejected/destroyed rather than found/taken, the salvation of the world is achieved through mercy not strength/might, etc.


Maybe that is why i dislike the third PJ movie so much... all that remains there is fighting and war; while the books so clearly show Tolkien's dislike against war, violence and anything to do with arms. The true feelings of a post-war writer which echoes through his books. where indeed
Lindariel wrote:the salvation of the world is achieved through mercy not strength/might, etc.
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Postby Iolanthe » Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:16 am

Lindariel wrote:In a sense, he wanted his "mythology of England" to be part of and tie into all of the myths associated with greater Europe.

This broadens my concept quite a lot. I know Tolkien was drawing on great mythological archetypes - I can see them all over the place - but what I hadn't appreciated was the scale. This is, as you said, more than a mythology for England, but trying to put in place the archetypes themselves - or at least the 'earliest' tales of them - from which all other Northern tales flow. That is far more ambitious than I imagined.
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Postby Lindariel » Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:34 pm

Merry, my "source material" is David Day's Tolkien's Ring. It really is a terrific book, and a relatively fast read, with WONDERFUL illustrations by ALAN LEE! My husband bought it as a Christmas gift for me last year, mostly because he thought I'd like the Alan Lee illustrations. Fortunately, the text turned out to be terrific as well -- a really nice introduction to a number of Northern mythologies I had never read and some good analysis as well.

I don't recall reading anything that would tie in to our beloved Huan, and unfortunately, the book doesn't have an index to help me search. Shadowfax makes an appearance, however, in the guise of Odin's mighty 8-legged horse, Sleipnir; as does Carcharoth the Red Maw in form of the Norse Fenrir the Giant Wolf who bit off the hand of Odin's son Tyr and then devoured the Sun during Ragnarok (the battle of World's End), which "burned and consumed him from within."

Iolanthe, you will probably appreciate the following quote from the book:

"I had in mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story . . . which I could dedicate simply: to England; to my country."

The enormity of this undertaking is staggering. It would be as if Homer, before writing the Iliad and the Odyssey, had first to invent the whole of Greek mythology and history. The degree to which he has actually succeeded is remarkable. In large part Tolkien's invented mythology in the popular imagination has definitely become that of England. Furthermore, it is certainly the most complex and detailed invented world in all literature . . . .

Central to Tolkien's creative effort was the attempted illusion that Middle-earth was a world of archetypes that survived in the racial unconscious of the English people. All that the English are and know comes from this world. All great events of English history are prefigured in archetypal form in this ancient mythic world.

Throughout his fictional writing, Tolkien employs a favourite literary device of inventing a kind of 'prototype story' which we are encouraged to accept as the 'true event' that would plausibly explain later well-known legends and tales of many nations.
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Postby Iolanthe » Fri Jan 05, 2007 8:19 pm

Central to Tolkien's creative effort was the attempted illusion that Middle-earth was a world of archetypes that survived in the racial unconscious of the English people.

Fascinating, Lindariel! This bit of the quote is gone into quite deeply in Verlyn Fliegers Interrupted Music which I'm reading at the moment. I'm finding it a difficult book to concentrate on (rather dry and academic) but it's all about the means Tolkien used to make his created world seem real and relevant, and more importantly, how it's stories have been transmitted down to us (albeit fictitiously).
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Postby Merry » Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:36 pm

I've read somewhere that Tolkien was very interested in Jungian theory, but I've never read anyone being very specific about that--did he read Jung's own work? Which ones? What ideas about archetypes did he think were good ones? etc. I'd love to know if Verlyn or any other author addresses these questions.

Personally, I have trouble understanding what a 'racial unconscious' might be or how it might operate. I know that Tolkien thought his Atlantis dream was an example of this but, again, I've got a lot of questions about it!
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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Postby Lindariel » Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:17 pm

Merry, Day's book mentions Karl Jung in association with the great psychologist's studies of alchemy. Among other things, Day notes:

Jung's discovery of alchemy was one of the greatest intellectual adventures of his life. He gradually came to believe that he 'had stumbled upon the historical counterpart of the psychology of the unconscious.' In alchemy and myths he saw symbols of a subconscious, universal language -- a 'secret language' of the psyche which the unconscious understood, even if the mind did not. He even adopted the alchemist's Ouroboros [the symbol of the serpent/dragon biting its tail to form a circle] as the symbol for his own psychiatric research institute.


Other than this, I don't have any references to any direct influences of Jung on Tolkien's work.
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Postby Iolanthe » Sat Jan 06, 2007 6:23 pm

Verlyn Flieger's Interrupted Music, which I mentioned above, goes into the whole racial memory thing in great detail in Chapters 4-5. She cites the Notion Club Papers and the story within a story structure (later abandoned) of going back though successive generations to the fall of Numenor. Earendil, Elendil, Alboin, Eriol/Aelfwine, Elwin and lastly Alwin Arundel Lowdham would all be generations of the same family. Lowdham 'remembers' Numenor being submerged by a huge wave (Tolkien's own recurring dream) and searches for these memories by a kind of psychic time-travel back to his own past. This is based on Jung's idea of the collective unconcious - the interwoven memories of our ancestors that still form the deepest part of our unconcious.

As well as 'memories' there is a leaf from a book presented at the Notion Club (based on the Inklings) which sets him and his son off on a trail of discovery. A copy of a translation of a copy of another copy of a book by Eriol based on seeing an original book saved from Numenor by Elendil which contains a copy of even older stories. You get the picture. A whole historical context for Tolkien's Middle-earth stories (specifically the Sil) to come down to us.

She quotes Christopher as saying that it was probably abandoned because it was just to complicated to work with and LOTR with it's appendices, in its way, did the same job of forming a bridge.

It is horribly complicated and the only reason I remember it all and can give you a potted version is that I happened to be reading it only about an hour before logging on here. How's that for Jungian synchronicity!!!!! :shock:
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Postby Iolanthe » Sat Jan 06, 2007 6:26 pm

And now another long post - I didn't want to muddle these two things up :lol: .

I found this interesting site by googling hounds, dogs and mythology. It goes into dogs in world mythologies in a lot of depth.

http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/bdogs.htm

Most dogs seem to be guardians of the otherworld, or Hell Hounds, sitting at the gates of the otherworld and constantly on watch. Carcharoth the wolf fits the picture here. But they also accompany shamans and heroes as they visit the underworld, more Huan’s role:

Black Dogs: Guardians of the corpse ways
By Bob Trubshaw

Quite why the Norse literature considers journeying to the underworld to be important is never explicitly stated. It is a theme which recurs in various sagas, as Davidson had revealed in an early work, The road to Hel [24]…….

……Elsewhere in The road to Hel we are told that dog guardians are one of several characteristic features of the journey. Analogously, 'The watchman on the mound, too, is a familiar figure; can it be because the figure sitting on the howe symbolises communication between the living and the dead . . . ?' As we have seen, it might be better to see the dog as the better guardian and symbol of the liminal status of the barrow.

The essence of the hellhound is his intermediary position - at the border of this world and next, between life and death, hope and fear, and also (given its pairing with the dog of life) between good and evil. For this role, the dog is perfectly suited, being the domestic species par excellence, the tamed carnivore who stands midway between animal and human, savagery and civilization, nature and culture [26].

Few myths have such world-wide parallels. We are left with the distinct impression that dogs have been protecting the ways to the Otherworld back into the origins of human beliefs.



The whole article is very interesting :D .
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