Tolkien’s 1st, ‘darkest’ prose to be published
The first prose piece by “Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien is to be published in the United Kingdom on Thursday, a version of an epic Finnish poem that experts describe as “undeniably his darkest work.”
Written in 1914-1915 when Tolkien was still a student at the University of Oxford, “The Story of Kullervo” shows the young author “finding his feet,” Vincent Ferre, professor of comparative literature at University Paris Est-Criteil told AFP.
Fascinated by ancient languages from a young age, Tolkien was taken by the 19th century work of epic poetry, Kalevala, a compilation of mythology and folklore which tells the story of Kullervo.
The story is “the first time that J.R.R. Tolkien, who had been a poet until then, began writing prose,” Ferre, a Tolkien expert, said.
“We could say that Tolkien is finding his feet ... He ultimately leaves the story to one side without finishing it, switching to write more personal and original works,” he added.
Published by Harper Collins, the short story is published on Thursday in Britain and is due to be released on Oct. 27 in the United States.
“The Story of Kullervo” was first published in 2010 in the academic journal “Tolkien Studies” by English professor Verlyn Flieger.
Flieger had copied out a manuscript written by Tolkien in pencil held at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
“I began to think that it deserved a wider audience than subscribers to a scholarly journal,” Flieger told AFP.
After some consideration, the Tolkien estate granted permission.
“It’s his earliest mythic story, and thus a precursor of all that is to come,” said Flieger, who edited the edition.
“It is also undeniably his darkest work, and thus foreshadows the darker and more somber aspects of his invented world.”
A copy of “The Story of Kullervo” by J.R.R. Tolkien is pictured in London on Tuesday, Aug. 25. The first prose work by “Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien is to be published in the UK on Thursday, Aug. 27. Written in 1914-1915 when Tolkien was still a student at the University of Oxford, “The Story of Kullervo” is a prose version of an epic Finnish poem.