BEREN AND LÚTHIEN/J.R.R. TOLKIEN'S NEW 100-YEAR-OLD NOVEL
"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish."
These are the words of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings author, J.R.R. Tolkien. And these are words to live by. If you don't start something, then you can't finish it. Unfortunately, Mr. Tolkien's latest book, though it was started, Beren and Lúthien, falls into this category. His son, Christopher, completed it almost a century after Mr. Tolkien first wrote it.
Mr. Tolkien died on September 2, 1973, leaving behind unpublished manuscripts and notes that Christopher used to publish his first posthumous novel, The Silmarillion, in 1977. The Silmarillion consists of five parts and tells the story of Middle-earth before Frodo begins his journey with The One Ring.
Christopher went on the publish numerous books based on his father's unpublished writings on Middle-earth, called The History of Middle-Earth, a 12-volume series which analyzes Mr. Tolkien's unpublished manuscripts. It wasn't until 2007, that the second completed novel, The Children of Húrin, was published. It takes place 6,000 years before The One Ring was destroyed.
Beren and Lúthien, which tells the story of two star-crossed lovers, was released last week, on the 10th anniversary of The Children of Húrin. Lúthien's father is an Elven King of the forest realm of Doriath and doesn't approve of the love between his daughter and Beren, a mortal man. He gives Beren an impossible task that he must complete before he can marry Lúthien.
Christopher has been a true keeper of his father's extraordinary world. This novel might be his last because he's 93 years old.
"In my ninety-third year this is (presumptively) my last book in the long series of editions of my father's writings," Christopher writes in the preface of the new book. "This tale is chosen in memoriam because of its deeply-rooted presence in his life."
Indeed, written on the tombstone - underneath the names of Mr. Tolkien and his wife, Edith Mary Tolkien - are the names "Lúthien" and "Beren."