Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Beren and Lúthien, by J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Christopher Tolkien

Second paragraph of third chapter:
Barahir is driven into hiding, his hiding betrayed, and Barahir slain; his son Beren after a life outlawed flees south, crosses the Shadowy Mountains, and after grievous hardships comes to Doriath. Of this and his other adventures is told in The Lay of Leithian. He gains the love of Tinúviel 'the nightingale' — his own name for Lúthien — the daughter of Thingol. To win her Thingol, in mockery, requires a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth. Beren sets out to achieve this, is captured, and set in dungeon in Angband, but conceals his real identity and is given as a slave to Thû the hunter. Lúthien is imprisoned by Thingol, but escapes and goes in search of Beren. With the aid of Huan lord of dogs she rescues Beren, and gains entrance to Angband where Morgoth is enchanted and finally wrapped in slumber by her dancing. They get a Silmaril and escape, but are barred at gates of Angband by Carcaras the Wolf-ward. He bites off Beren's hand which holds the Silmaril, and goes mad with the anguish of its burning within him.
Christopher Tolkien, who died at the start of this crazy crazy year, published this when he was 92. To be honest, I don't think there was much new here - most of the material is in The Book of Lost Tales vol 2 and The Lays of Beleriand, published in 1984 and 1985 and which I read in 2011. The Beren and Lúthien story was of huge personal significance to his father - it's interesting to me that Tolkien, whose name had seven letters ending with -ien, found forbidden love with Edith Bratt, whose name had five letters starting with B. And as presented here, we see Tolkien's story-telling skills mature in the different versions of the tale. In the final version, in fact, Lúthien ends up as rather a kick-ass character who rescues Beren and challenges both Morgoth and her father. (This was largely edited out for The Silmarillion; a big mistake.) I think as presented here it's a bit more digestible than in the 1980s books, but if you already have them you can probably skip this. Otherwise you can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2018. Next on that list is Greybeard, by Brian W. Aldiss.
Tags: bookblog 2020, writer: tolkien
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