Ask and ye shall receive.
I sent an e-mail query to Christopher Tolkien to see if he’d be willing to be interviewed by WU in advance of the eagerly awaited publication of his father’s last work of his stupendous Middle Earth mythology, The Children of Húrin. The best I hoped for was a polite ‘no thanks’. But HarperCollins UK now has a web publicity team, and the nice folks there sent a us a comprehensive FAQ sheet about the upcoming release that we wanted to share with you. Enjoy!
Q: How did The Children of Húrin come about?
The Children of Húrin, begun in 1918, was one of three ‘Great Tales’ J.R.R. Tolkien worked on throughout his life, though he never realised his ambition to see it published in his lifetime. Some of the text will be familiar to fans from extracts and references within other Tolkien books but this is the first time the entire story has been presented in its complete form.
As Adam Tolkien elaborated in a recent interview: ‘This is a more difficult question than it seems. As you know, versions and pieces of the story of Húrin and his descendants have been published in various works (The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The Book of Lost Tales, The Lays of Beleriand, etc). The text of The Children of Húrin is in part compiled from these extant texts, and particularly that which appears in Unfinished Tales. But it is a new reworking of the complete story. Many parts of the text will be – if not identical – recognizable to the knowledgeable reader, but there are also pieces that have never appeared before. Also the format of the text, as a standalone and complete text with no editorial commentary to interrupt the tale, should in itself and in my opinion considerably transform the reading experience. The text as a whole can be said to be “new” as it is a recomposition of published texts and other “pieces” that weren’t published previously. The completed puzzle, in a sense.
Q: What is Christopher’s contribution to the book?