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The Fall of Arthurby J. R. R. Tolkien
Synopses & Reviews
The Fall of Arthur, the only venture by J.R.R. Tolkien into the legends of Arthur, king of Britain, may well be regarded as his finest and most skillful achievement in the use of Old English alliterative meter, in which he brought to his transforming perceptions of the old narratives a pervasive sense of the grave and fateful nature of all that is told: of Arthurs expedition overseas into distant heathen lands, of Guineveres flight from Camelot, of the great sea battle on Arthurs return to Britain, in the portrait of the traitor Mordred, in the tormented doubts of Lancelot in his French castle. Unhappily, The Fall of Arthur was one of several long narrative poems that Tolkien abandoned. He evidently began it in the 1930s, and it was sufficiently advanced for him to send it to a very perceptive friend who read it with great enthusiasm at the end of 1934 and urgently pressed him, "You simply must finish it!" But in vain: he abandoned it at some unknown date, though there is evidence that it may have been in 1937, the year of publication of The Hobbit and the first stirrings of The Lord of the Rings. Years later, in a letter of 1955, he said that he "hoped to finish a long poem on The Fall of Arthur," but that day never came. Associated with the text of the poem, however, are many manuscript pages: a great quantity of drafting and experimentation in verse, in which the strange evolution of the poems structure is revealed, together with narrative synopses and significant tantalizing notes. In these notes can be discerned clear if mysterious associations of the Arthurian conclusion with The Silmarillion, and the bitter ending of the love of Lancelot and Guinevere, which was never written.
The Fall of Arthur, the only venture by J.R.R. Tolkien into the legends of Arthur King of Britain, may well be regarded as his finest and most skillful achievement in the use of the Old English alliterative meter, but it depicts drama and adventure in language only Tolkien could have written. Edited by his son Christopher Tolkien, who also provides detailed commentary and notes.
The Children of Hand#250;rin is the first complete book by J.R.R.Tolkien since the 1977 publication of The Silmarillion. Six thousand years before the One Ring is destroyed, Middle-earth lies under the shadow of the Dark Lord Morgoth. The greatest warriors among elves and men have perished, and all is in darkness and despair. But a deadly new leader rises, Tand#250;rin, son of Hand#250;rin, and with his grim band of outlaws begins to turn the tide in the war for Middle-earth — awaiting the day he confronts his destiny and the deadly curse laid upon him.
The paperback edition of The Children of Hand#250;rin includes eight color paintings by Alan Lee and a black-and-white map.
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is a previously unpublished work by J.R.R. Tolkien, written while Tolkien was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford during the 1920s and 30s, before he wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It makes available for the first time Tolkiens extensive retelling in English narrative verse of the epic Norse tales of Sigurd the Völsung and The Fall of the Niflungs. It includes an introduction by J.R.R. Tolkien, drawn from one of his own lectures on Norse literature, with commentary and notes on the poems by Christopher Tolkien.
Many years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien composed his own version of the great legend of Northern antiquity, recounted here in The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.
In the Lay of the Völsungs is told the ancestry of the great hero Sigurd, the slayer of Fáfnir, most celebrated of dragons; of his awakening of the Valkyrie Brynhild, who slept surrounded by a wall of fire, and of their betrothal; and of his coming to the court of the great princes who were named the Niflungs (or Nibelungs), with whom he entered into blood-brotherhood.
In scenes of dramatic intensity, of confusion of identity, thwarted passion, jealousy, and bitter strife, the tragedy of Sigurd and Brynhild, of Gunnar the Niflung and Gudrún his sister, mounts to its end in the murder of Sigurd, the suicide of Brynhild, and the despair of Gudrún.
The Lay of Gudrún recounts her fate after the death of Sigurd, her marriage against her will to the mighty Atli, ruler of the Huns (the Attila of history), his murder of her brothers, and her hideous revenge.
New York Times bestseller
“An incomplete but highly compelling retelling . . . An action-packed, doom-haunted saga, full of vivid natural description.”—New York Times Book Review
The Fall of Arthur recounts in verse the last campaign of King Arthur, who, even as he stands at the threshold of Mirkwood, is summoned back to Britain by news of the treachery of Mordred. Already weakened in spirit by Guineveres infidelity with the now-exiled Lancelot, Arthur must rouse his knights to battle one last time against Mordreds rebels and foreign mercenaries. Powerful, passionate, and filled with vivid imagery, this unfinished poem reveals Tolkiens gift for storytelling at its brilliant best. Christopher Tolkien, editor, contributes three illuminating essays that explore the literary world of King Arthur, reveal the deeper meaning of the verses and the painstaking work his father applied to bring the poem to a finished form, and investigate the intriguing links between The Fall of Arthur and Tolkiens Middle-earth.
“Compelling in pace, haunted by loss, it lives up to expectations.”—Daily Beast
“Erudite and beautiful.” - NPR.org
About the Author
J.R.R. TOLKIEN (1892–1973) is the creator of Middle-earth and author of such classic and extraordinary works of fiction as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. His books have been translated into more than fifty languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.
CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN is the third son of J.R.R. Tolkien. Appointed by Tolkien to be his literary executor, he has devoted himself to the editing and publication of unpublished writings, notably The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth.
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