Apr
10
2018

‘New’ book by ‘J.R.R.’ Tolkien coming out.

Air quotes deliberate: “If you’re a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth novels, you’ll be excited to hear that there’s a new unpublished book that will be released soon called The Fall of Gondolin. The book was edited and revised by Tolkien’s son Christopher.”  …or, more accurately: “Tolkien never actually wrote The Tale of Eärendel, but The Fall of Gondolin will contain Christopher’s best sketch of it based on his father’s outlines.”

OK, look.

Believe it or not, I kind of understand the dilemma that Christopher Tolkien is apparently facing. It’s a hell of a thing to be a writer with that last name; and I am not saying that the son cannot write.  And God knows that if I had access to JRR Tolkien’s unpublished literary papers I’d want to clutch the Precious close to my heart, too.  But this situation increasingly reminds me of August Derleth’s habit of taking HP Lovecraft’s notes and turning them into ‘posthumous collaborations.’ Christopher Tolkien did not ‘edit’ The Fall of Gondolin, or the two books before it. At this point, he’s effectively writing these books and slapping his father’s name on the covers.

I’m not exactly horrified; after all, I’ve read the Silmarillion several times, and I’m pretty sure that parts of that book were ghostwritten by Guy Gavriel Kay. But can we stop with the misleading book covers? It’s annoying.

3 Comments

  • Luke says:

    I wouldn’t mind so much if he hadn’t completely missed the point in Children of Hurin.
    And that I fully expect him to do so again in this work.
    .
    Constantly living in your father’s shadow may be tragic, but the trenches of WWI were a much different type of tragedy. And it’s the latter type of tragedy that is directly germaine to the tale.

    • nicklevi86 says:

      What did he change in Children of Hurin that wasn’t in Silmarillion? I have skipped these new iterations assuming they were just polished single-serve chapters of the former.
      .
      OTOH Christopher has been no fool managing the Tolkien Estate religiously. If nothing else, these books keep certain material under their copyright for a couple extra years.
      .
      Finally,*Googles CJR Tolkien*, He apparently Retired from the estate late last year.

      • Luke says:

        Missing the point of the story doesn’t mean he got the details wrong.
        The focus and tone are slightly off, and implications are missed.
        .
        In other words, the classic “Man vs. Fate” mythic plot is not fully grocked.
        It’s still a tragedy.
        Turin’s downfall (and the downfall of everyone and him) still comes directly as a consequence of his actions.
        But there’s an unfortunate implication that he should have accepted his Fate, and taken up basketweaving.

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