Tolkien’s 1st, ‘dark­est’ prose to be pub­lished

The China Post - - ARTS -

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.”

AFP

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.

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