August 27, 2015

"The Story of Kullervo" Published Today

Today, a new Tolkien book is published for the first time – The Story of Kullervo. It is available in hardback and ebook by Harper Collins. Surprisingly, there is no deluxe edition. My guess, is that, to the publisher, this isn’t a ‘major’ release, even though it is significant to Tolkien, and study of. Usually, Houghton Mifflin, the American Tolkien publisher, releases Tolkien books the same day as Harper does, but for some reason, their release is delayed by a few months.

The Story of Kullervo is Tolkien’s prose re-telling (not ‘translation’…?) of the Kullervo cycle found within the epic Finnish poem known as The Kalevala. It was written by Tolkien in 1914-15. The book also comes with articles and commentaries by Verlyn Flieger. I will also add that the tale itself in the book is approximately about 26 pages long, and is unfinished – a ‘fragment’.

In Recent years, The Children of Hurin, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun and Beowulf received media attention when they were released, so let’s see if The Story of Kullervo ‘catches on’ as well. Looking forward to what could be next!

The world first publication of a previously unknown work of fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the powerful story of a doomed young man who is sold into slavery and who swears revenge on the magician who killed his father. Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. ‘Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny. Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruellest of fates. Tolkien wrote that The Story of Kullervo was ‘the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own’, and was ‘a major matter in the legends of the First Age’; his Kullervo was the ancestor of Túrin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion. In addition to being a powerful story in its own right, The Story of Kullervo – published here for the first time with the author’s drafts, notes and lecture-essays on its source-work, The Kalevala, is a foundation stone in the structure of Tolkien’s invented world.

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