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New Tolkien Story To be Published 387

vingilot writes "CNN reports that Christopher Tolkien has edited and will release a new book by his father. From the article: 'Christopher Tolkien has spent the past 30 years working on "The Children of Hurin," an epic tale his father began in 1918 and later abandoned. Excerpts of "The Children of Hurin," which includes the elves and dwarfs of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other works, have been published before.'"
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New Tolkien Story To be Published

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  • by koreth ( 409849 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:14PM (#16134481)
    I guess outrageously long copyright terms really do encourage artists to produce more work after they die.
    • by Quaoar ( 614366 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:28PM (#16134566)
      I hope so...I can't wait for Tupac's new album in 2080!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vancondo ( 986849 )
      Hmm.. Maybe there's a reason the story was tossed aside in the first place?

      http://vancouvercondo.info [vancouvercondo.info]
      • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <.Satanicpuppy. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday September 18, 2006 @08:59PM (#16135002) Journal
        It's almost like you're saying Chris Tolkien is only pimping incomplete scraps of his fathers work to make a cheap buck for himself. If that were true, you'd expect him to have written a bunch more books with "Tolkien" in really big print on the back, in an attempt to fool the ignorant into buying what amounts to extremely amaturish fanfict.

        (Special place in hell reserved for Chris Tolkien and Frank Herbert Jr.)
        • by e2d2 ( 115622 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @10:05PM (#16135278)
          I know that I have works from my father and I've extended them in my own interest, but always with the intent to honor my father and his inspiration. Maybe young Tolkein thinks in the same fashion? He is bringing his fathers work to life. Just another viewpoint.
        • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @02:34AM (#16136164) Homepage

          I agree 100% as far as Frank Herbert Jr. There should be a special space in hell reserved for people like him. For people who shit on everything their fathers built.

          Also, It is also quite obvious that Herbert Jr has written his books. They are written using the current modern American literature style which is beaten into kids in college. I still remember by own brush up with this experience with horror 15+ years later. It is the same style as used by Terry Brooks, Stephen Donaldson and most of the modern American Sci Fi/Fantasy writers. There are lots of repeats and a single idea is reiterated at least 3-4 times to ensure that the dumb reader gets it. The vocabulary is a fraction of the vocabulary of most of the older generation like Herbert Sr, Zelazny, Le Guin, Bradbury (in fact from the old generation - everybody but Azimov). The overall lexical construction is quite primitive as well. It is quite obvious who wrote these books.

          As far as Chris Tolkien the situation is not so straightforward. He published at least one clearly and purely J.R.R. Tolkien Book - the Silmarilion [amazon.co.uk]. That was J.R.R. Tolkien all the way and if not for Chris Tolkien, it would have failed to see the light of day (it was published postmortem). The Unifinished Tales [amazon.co.uk] seem to be what junior sells them for - drafts, notes and unfinished tales. Looking at the style and vocabulary they also seem to be a J.R.R. Tolkien work, just quite what it says on the tin - unfinished.

          I have no idea about this new book, but I hope that he does not join Hurbert junior in that circle of hell. He has done not that bad so far. He has shown some his dad's dirty laundry (stuff j.r.r. never intended to be published) but he has not shit on his grave just yet (or I missed that one in the bookshop).

  • Just a money grab? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:15PM (#16134489) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:
    Excerpts of "The Children of Hurin," which includes the elves and dwarves of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other works, have been published before.

    "It has seemed to me for a long time that there was a good case for presenting my father's long version of the legend of the 'Children of Hurin' as an independent work, between its own covers,"

    So the question is, will there actually be anything new in here that readers haven't seen before, or is it merely pulling bits from various texts and stitching them together in a fresh binding? Sounds like the latter to me...
    • by joggle ( 594025 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @08:15PM (#16134801) Homepage Journal

      So the question is, will there actually be anything new in here that readers haven't seen before, or is it merely pulling bits from various texts and stitching them together in a fresh binding? Sounds like the latter to me...

      Considering he is somewhat of a Tolkien scholar and has worked on this 30 years, I doubt that it is just a hodgepodge of works. There probably is a bit of truth to the money grab in that the recent success of the LOTR movies probably encouraged him to finish editing and/or publishers to publish the work.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Fortunately I didn't buy the LOTR trilogy set just yet. What's next? Lost side story of elven child raised by dwarven humans?
  • by loteck ( 533317 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:16PM (#16134499) Homepage
    for they have largely been found to be "tricksy", not to mention "false".
  • Abandoned? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EotB ( 964562 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:19PM (#16134514)
    Well the article at least makes it seem like Tolkein abandoned it due to time pressures or something similar, as opposed to considering the work to be sub-standard. The fact that he included exerpts in his other works would seem to be a good sign.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AuMatar ( 183847 )
      If you read some of his other writings, he has a lot of abandoned stories. The LotR was really a minor footnote in the history of middle earth.

      I'm curious about this particular story though. The Narn i Nin Hurin (Tale of the Children of Hurin) was already published as part of the Silmarilion. While I supposed it could have been polished (and it needed a great deal of that), I don't see what else could have been done to it over that version.
    • Re:Abandoned? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ubergrendle ( 531719 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @09:06PM (#16135022) Journal
      Tolkien was a notorious procrastinator, leaving pieces of his work alone for 20 or 30 years at a time before picking it back up.

      JRR specifically left his son Christopher in charge of his estate after his death to continue, finish, and document his lifetime's work. The Silmarillion was an early compilation, based on his father's outlines, of a variety of tales -- the Tale of Hurin is mentioned as one of those texts. IIRC, JRR specifically tasked his son with completing the Silmarillion.

      Christopher Tolkien has been exceedingly honest in his attempts, documenting divergences and inconsistencies with his father's intentions, and getting help (Guy Kay) when possible. He also doesn't present it as his own work, its usually "JRR Tolkien, edited by Christopher" etc. The Tale of Hurin will clearly be presented as a 'best effort' recovery from notes and incomplete texts.

      Given the choice of a) no material, or b) Christopher's best interpretation of the material, I'll take 'b' every time. If you want to see butchered work after an author's demise, look to Robert E Howard's Conan stories, or the latest 'additions' to the Dune series.

  • Balrogs? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfr ... .net minus physi> on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:21PM (#16134527) Homepage Journal
    I think I speak for all true Tolkien fans when I say; This book will give the conclusive, irrefutable evidence that Balrog's indeed have wings. Namely, there will be one with wings on the cover.
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:23PM (#16134539) Homepage Journal
    We now have the Really Lost, Unfinished Tales of J.R.R. Tolkien
  • by savi ( 142689 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:23PM (#16134540)
    At last, the true secrets of the Bene Gesserit line of Noldor will be revealed! I LOVE pre-quels!
  • expected criticism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by acvh ( 120205 ) <geek.mscigars@com> on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:32PM (#16134587) Homepage
    and yes, Chris Tolkien has fed off the teat of his late father's creativity for a long time now. still, the literary joy of reading The Silmarillion, The Narn i Hin Hurun, The Lay of Leithian, and more, far outweighs whatever motives young Tolkien may have in editing and publishing these many works.

    Prof. Tolkien, while living, tried and failed to publish the Silmarillion. The other works were never even close to publishable. yet he often talked and wrote of these tales having a life of their own, and I don't think he would object to their being shared with millions of fans.

    I, for one, am grateful for the opportunity to have read of the First and Second ages of Tolkien's world.

  • Trilogy (Score:5, Funny)

    by the_tsi ( 19767 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:34PM (#16134594)
    This is the first part of a trilogy, actually. Chris Tolkien is co-writing them with Kevin J. Anderson, who is widely regarded as the finest science fiction and fantasy author in the history of either genre.
  • Motives in Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moore.dustin ( 942289 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:34PM (#16134597) Homepage
    While I would love to believe that this is not a ploy for more money, I find it hard to swallow. He had abandoned the book and his son decided to abandon, edit, and release it for sale. Now I do not know his son obviously, but one must ask themselves, "If he respected his father, he would not being doing this would he?"

    I will read it though, that is for sure. I will however, credit the subject material to Tolkien while the rest will go to his son and his 30 years of editing. I doubt anything could be tampered with so much and still hold the same value as the original. Then again, maybe because it was not "finished" he fleshed it out - either way it is not a book authored by Tolkien to me.

    • by k98sven ( 324383 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @10:00PM (#16135259) Journal
      He had abandoned the book and his son decided to abandon, edit, and release it for sale. Now I do not know his son obviously, but one must ask themselves, "If he respected his father, he would not being doing this would he?"

      I don't really see any easy answer either way, actually.

      This dilemma happens to every popular artist after they die. (Obviously, if they're not popular, there won't be any demand anyway and no dilemma) Often they didn't publish the stuff because it they didn't consider it 'done', or they didn't feel it was 'good enough'. Many (most?) great artists have very high standards in that respect.

      The problem is that while those concerns may have meant a lot to the artist, they mean nothing now. If people are still interested long after their death, then their reputation is beyond tainting. There is absolutely nothing Chris Tolkien could release, no matter how bad, that would taint J.R.R.'s reputation, since everyone will know that the man himself considered it to be sub-par. Nobody is going to judge him by it.

      Now, to take another example: Franz Kafka. He published little during his life, and wanted all his writings destroyed after his death, at which time he was virtually unknown. Obviously that didn't happen, since he's now regarded as one of the 20th century's greatest writers.

      His friend Max Brod was the one who published the material. Who is prepared to condemn him? I'm not.

      I guess the ethic that I'm suggesting is this: You can't blindly obey someone's wishes, even their last wishes, without considering the motives. There are a lot of possible ones for wanting something to go unpublished. The artist might've considered it too personal, and I think that might be grounds for obeying. But if the motive was a concern the work wasn't up-to-standard, then you might be able to disregard it.

      In Kafka's case, I think it suffices to say that the guy had enough self-loathing and self-destructive emotions to fill a Goth club several times over.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Enigma1625 ( 544974 )
      I think that anyone who has read Christopher Tolkien's notes and commentary on Unfinished Tales knows that his respect for his father's work goes far beyond what words can describe. To suggest otherwise is, frankly, an insult to the man who must be considered _the_ Tolkien scholar of the world.
    • by stefanlasiewski ( 63134 ) <(slashdot) (at) (stefanco.com)> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @12:41AM (#16135849) Homepage Journal
      While I would love to believe that this is not a ploy for more money, I find it hard to swallow.

      Christopher Tolkien is 82 years old-- do you really think he's plotting to make millions?

      Tolkien's children were actually involved with many of the Tolkien's legendarium. One of my copies of the LotR contains an essay by Tolkien where he talked about his family. Tolkien would discuss ideas with his children, let them read early drafts, they would point out inconstancies... I don't think Tolkien did this for all off the works, but this tradition started young-- The Hobbit was originally written specifically for the Tolkien children.

      Christoper Tolkien probably understands the Tolkien legendarium more then anyone in the world-- and probably read the notes for "The Children of Hurin" 50 years ago.

  • Dwarfs (Score:4, Informative)

    by KrayzieKyd ( 906704 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:35PM (#16134598)
    "Dwarfs" is only the plural form of dwarf stars. The plural for dwarf people is "dwarves". Yes, English major.
    • "Dwarves" wasn't the plural for "dwarf", as in the little people, until Tolkien decided it was. In Old English, "dwarfs" was the common plural, hence "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".
    • by Kelson ( 129150 ) *
      "Dwarfs" is only the plural form of dwarf stars. The plural for dwarf people is "dwarves". Yes, English major.

      And somehow, I instantly think of this exchange from Into the Woods: [sjsondheim.com]

      It's no sicker than your thing with dwarves
      Dwarfs! (Dwarfs)
      Dwarfs are very upsetting

      Yes, theater major.

    • To settle this argument, let's just pretend the plural of "dwarf" is little people [wikipedia.org]. Or would Fisher-Price sue [wikipedia.org]?

    • by Bloater ( 12932 )
      The Concise Oxford Dictionary makes no distinction between the two.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yaksha42 ( 856623 )
      Maybe it is in this world, but not Tolkien's. He actually wanted to make the plural be "Dwarrows."

      "The real 'historical' plural of dwarf (like teeth of tooth) is dwarrows anyway: rather a nice word, but a bit too archaic. Still I rather wish I had used the word dwarrow." - The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #17
  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:37PM (#16134611)
    .. that "hurin" doesn't mean "corn". Cuz that would just be sad.
  • by Alfred, Lord Tennyso ( 975342 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:38PM (#16134613)
    Slashdot had a story some time ago [slashdot.org] that they'd found a copy of Beowulf translated by Tolkien at the bottom of a box of his papers in the Oxford library. Supposedly they were going to publish them as soon as they'd deciphered his terrible handwriting. But I haven't heard of it since.
    • by Duhavid ( 677874 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @08:25PM (#16134844)
      We have to wait 30 years for his son to edit....
  • by setirw ( 854029 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:38PM (#16134616) Homepage
    Now, that's what I'm Tolkien About!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:47PM (#16134658)
    wasnt Christopher Tolkien in that pulp fiction movie?

    "he hid that book up his ass for 30 years."
  • Brian Herbert has been doing this with his fathers great worlks also. I hear they are good but I'm scared to read something by an author other then the one who originally developed the story. Though I did read the Paul Preuss version of Arthur C. Clark's Venus Prime and I enjoyed it.

    I've been meaning to pick up the Simillarion as I've heard nothing but good things... perhaps this will be the viral marketing ploy that will motivate me enough to grab a copy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, there's really only one thing to say about Brian Herbert's "work"... http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2003/10/15 [penny-arcade.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DarkProphet ( 114727 )
      I've been meaning to pick up the Simillarion as I've heard nothing but good things... perhaps this will be the viral marketing ploy that will motivate me enough to grab a copy.

      I highly recommend that you do. I scored a used hardcover copy on Amazon for under USD $20. As another poster mentioned, LOTR is but a footnote in the Tolkien universe's history. I've heard people liken the Silmarillion to the bible in that it can be a rather dry history, and that may be a vaild complaint. In my experience, though,
      • Exciting Elvish backstories answering questions like "Why is Galadriel so bitter?"
        There were several ages during which it was definately not fun to be related to anyone who had ever seen a Silmaril... because they were DOOOOOMED.
    • by acvh ( 120205 ) <geek.mscigars@com> on Monday September 18, 2006 @08:53PM (#16134978) Homepage
      No similarity at all. As young Herbert said in the intro to the first abomination bearing his name, he COULD have used Dad's notes to write the story of the Scattering as his father intended, or he could just write some backstory to Dune that he made up himself.

      Bad choice, boyo.

      Chris Tolkien doesn't write, he edits. He consulted closely with his father on the writing of the published works, and no one is more qualified to produce these versions of Prof. Tolkien's stories.
  • Elves and Dwarfs? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ko9 ( 946154 )
    I can't resist correcting this text.. It's either Elfs and Dwarfs (the original official english rule), or the Tolkien style: Elves and Dwarves. Hobbits are still hobbits though ;-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kelson ( 129150 ) *
      Hobbits are still hobbits though ;-)

      Well, except to Gollum.

      Nasty hobbitses!

      Not that I'd point out Gollum as a paragon of proper speech, mind you...

  • Apparently Matt Damon will be playing the Young Aragorn at The Westernesse Academy.

    Gilbert Gottried will play the prankish young Gandalf (or, "G-Dalf," as he was known at the time, back when he was wearing his floppy hat all backwards n'stuff).
  • ...He was only eighteen years dead when he quit publishing.

  • I know; Hubbard just keeps egging Tolkien on.

    "Come on, just crank up that old ectoplasmic typewriter and shoot 'em another one. Herbert is catching up fast, and when Jordan, McCaffrey and Anthony get here, you've got to be wayyy ahead of 'em or you'll never get any respect."

    "I thought you were in Hell. Aren't you supposed to be dancing on lava or something?"

    "You kidding? My literary agents took care of all that."
  • by radarsat1 ( 786772 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @08:43PM (#16134936) Homepage
    "Wow, that's great," I thought, as I read the title of the article. Then I made the mistake of clicking on "Read more..."

    Man are you lot ever a bunch of depressed, jaded people. Almost every single comment has been attacking Mr. Tolkien for doing homage to his father's work. How sad...

    (Please, no "You must be new here" comments.. :)
  • by GaryPatterson ( 852699 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @08:51PM (#16134966)
    I always thought there were (at least) three really solid books to come out of the Silmarillion - the story of Feanor and his kids, the story of Tuor and Gondolin, and the story of Hurin and his kids. All three are much better in the History of Middle Earth series than the Silmarillion (which was an awful book if you liked to follow characters for more than a chapter or two).

    I'm looking forward to a newly fleshed out story, although it does feel a little like Christopher Tolkien keeps on discovering just a little more each time, in a way that would ensure a steady flow of books. "Oh look, here's a bit more of the story!" (two years later) "And underneath that bit was even more of the story! It's a shame I didn't think to keep looking before publishing." (two years later) "Well, what do you know! Some more of the story! Who could've imagined! Stap me vitals and so on."

    But I'm being unkind here.

    I'd also love to see a movie based on this story. Especially since Morgoth would play a prominent role. Unlike Sauron, he actually has a speaking role in the Middle Earth stories, and is a far more complex and interesting character. That, and he's got Balrogs leading his armies. Not that they could fly of course (the eagles of Manwe really hated them doing that).
    • It's not entirely Christopher's fault. His father tinkered with these stories for over 50 years. There were layers upon layers of revisions, with a manuscript that finally was a literal palimpsest. There really were many new things to discover; it's astonishing that he kept at it for as long as he did. Thanks to this approach, virtually all of Tolkien's mythological work at most of its stages is available to anyone interested in it.

      The story of Feanor wasn't really a stand-alone; it was more of the setup

  • http://amethyst-angel.com/bored_of_the_rings.html [amethyst-angel.com] (WARNING: Stupid popup ads on a site paying homage to a timeless parody, one of whose themes is the effect of crass commercialism on the popular social psyche and mythology.)

    * * * * *

    The preceding poster is a wholly owned subsidiary of the the Mitsubishi Corporation and his post may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the consent of Major League Baseball.

  • by big-magic ( 695949 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @10:19PM (#16135322)
    There are a lots of people here bashing the Tolkien works that were released after J.R.R death. Have any of you actually looked any of these books? Given that most of these books are very dense and very scholarly works, it's highly doubtful that Christopher Tolkien edited them just to make a quick buck. The intended audience for these books was just too small for that.

    When J.R.R died, he left literally thousands of pages of unpublished pages, many that he had been working on for decades. It would have been a real shame for this stuff to vanish forever. And Christopher Tolkien's contribution is usually just editing. He is generally very careful to separate his father's words from his commentary (usually with a different font).
  • by InklingBooks ( 687623 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @12:17AM (#16135767)
    Here is the blog of Michael Drout, the English professor who discovered Tolkien's Beowulf translation. His latest post comments on The Children of Hurin.

    Wormtalk [blogspot.com]

    And here's what he says:

    HarperCollins is going to be publishing Tolkien's Children of Húrin as a stand-alone volume next year. According to the press release (which I haven't been able to find on line), the text was created by Christopher Tolkien's painstaking editing together of Tolkien's many drafts. The book will include a new map by Christopher Tolkien and a jacket and color paintings by Alan Lee.

    He mentions several previously published versions of the tale and points out: "From the press release, it seems as if these variants will be stitched into a coherent whole in the same the way that Christopher Tolkien brought together disparate texts to create the 1977 The Silmarillion."

    Prof. Drout is also the editor of The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, which due out this October. It's a scholarly reference, which must explain the $199.95 price tag on Amazon. (Maybe you can get your public or school library to get a copy.) Since I contributed several articles, I'm hoping all contributors get free copies.

    --Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien (The only book-length, day-by-day chronology of LOTR.)

  • Plot Highlights (Score:3, Informative)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @09:07AM (#16137136) Journal
    The Children of Hurin, from what I remember from the previously published excerpts, is a tragic epic. The children are separated, there's amnesia, revenge, killing, bloodshed, betrayal, more killing, grief, backstabbing, and ultimately suicide. A compelling story, but not a happy story where the good guys win in the end. Actually, I'm not sure you could say there are any good guys in the whole thing.

About the time we think we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends. -- Herbert Hoover