Where’s Beren?

April 19, 2007

As I begin reading the preface and the introduction of Children of Hurin, I am giddy with anticipation. But at the same time i really want to know where Beren and Luthien are.

Christopher Tolkien, the famous author’s son and literary executor, goes on at length in Hurin about how it is one of the three Great Tales of his father’s universe; the other two being The Fall of Gondolin, and the tale of Beren and Luthien. (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings mere afterthoughts!)

But Beren is special to me. It is the most beautiful and moving heroic fairy tale I have ever experienced in any medium, in any context. The story of Beren, the vagabond survivor of a wiped out tribe of men, and of Luthien, the immortal daughter of a mighty elven king, is told briefly in some of Tokien’s other posthumous works, but I long for a fuller telling. As do many others, I imagine.

You’re curious about it? I don’t blame you. Unfortunately it lies ensconced within the dense pages of The Silmarillion, chapter 19 to be exact, safe from all but the nerdiest of readers. Either you brave the heavy narrative of this larger work, or you remain deprived of its heartbreaking beauty.

Or you could ask me. I could tell you the story. One thing I would surely mention is professor Tolkien’s headstone, which bears his name and that of his wife, Edith – plus something more.

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