Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

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Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Jeanette Steigmen » Thu Aug 20, 2015 3:08 am

Cnet announced two days ago that the lost book by J.R.R. Tolkien called "The Story of Kullervo" is coming soon. What do you guys make of this news? Any thoughts and opinions on what we know so far about story and content? Who is going to read it?

You can see the cnet article here.
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Galin » Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:02 am

Hi! I'm going to read it!

And although I could read it today -- not because I'm special but because it was already published in Tolkien Studies, and I happened to buy the particular volume of TS with this tale in it, when it came out -- I think I might wait until this new book arrives. Hammond and Scull have already pointed to some general differences between Tolkien's story and the Finnish tale (Tolkien enhanced the role of the dog Musti for example). And since I've already read their commentary, hopefully I'll forget some of it by the time I read the new book.

I waited this long in order to finnish the whole Kalevala, and thus read the Kullervo verses first (I finished all the verses just recently), that is, before reading Tolkien's version in prose (with bits of poetry).

Although if I wait much longer I'll probably forget some of the finer details in the Finnish version, but if I do I can now look up the verses without feeling that I'm "spoiling" a first read.

Not that you needed or wanted to know any of this :)

It's arguably not "necessary" to read the entire Kalevala even if you (anyone) want to read the Kullervo verses before Tolkien's prose story. I mean, it's not like you won't get the basic story, even if it's part of a larger whole (the "whole" of the Kalevala and its construction is quite an interesting subject in itself, and for example, most people are probably reading a longer version than was originally published).

Anyway, what was the question :wink:

Of course it's not necessary that one even read the Finnish Kullervo "section" before Tolkien's version!

I just wanted to :D
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Thu Aug 20, 2015 1:28 pm

I'm going to read it. Even though I already read it in Tolkien Studeis. And even though I haven't read any of the original story in the Kalevala (or any of the rest of the Kalevala, for that matter).

And it is not really lost, nor is it being uncovered. It's just being published for wide release for the first time. Which is biggest enough deal in and of itself. Arguably a bigger deal than the other recent "lost" works that were published for the first time, like Sigrud and Gudrun and The Fall of Arthur (neither of which were really "lost", any more than the Story of Kullervo) because this story really did form the basis for one main tales of Tolkien's legendarium. Which makes it a pretty big deal.
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Hobbit_Guy » Thu Aug 20, 2015 3:54 pm

Galin wrote:I waited this long in order to finnish the whole Kalevala, and thus read the Kullervo verses first (I finished all the verses just recently), that is, before reading Tolkien's version in prose (with bits of poetry).


Whether intentional or not, that was brilliant. :lol:

One nitpick of interest: the commentary (and transcription / presentation of the original manuscript) in Tolkien Studies was by Verlyn Flieger, not Hammond & Scull. :) She is also the one editing this standalone publication.

I'm looking forward to reading this - though I must confess to not having read through Sigurd and Gudrún yet, or The Fall of Arthur.
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Jeanette Steigmen » Fri Aug 21, 2015 1:21 am

Hobbit_Guy wrote:I'm looking forward to reading this - though I must confess to not having read through Sigurd and Gudrún yet, or The Fall of Arthur.


I'm in the same boat. I think that all of Tolkien's work can be appreciated independently though.

Also, I realize that it wasn't actually "lost" and "uncovered," but I found it intriguing that the cnet article chose to portray it this way. Nevertheless, it adds a little umph (albeit fabricated) to the release don't you think?
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Galin » Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:37 am

One nitpick of interest: the commentary (and transcription / presentation of the original manuscript) in Tolkien Studies was by Verlyn Flieger, not Hammond & Scull. She is also the one editing this standalone publication.


That's true of course. For clarity then, I read Hammond and Scull's comparison (Finnish tale to Tolkien's prose story) in their Reader's Guide, the "sister book" to their book titled Chronology. In Tolkien Studies, although I saved the story itself so far, I could not resist reading Flieger's commentary on nomenclature, and I read one version of Tolkien's essay on the Kalevala.

I don't read Flieger anymore due to her stand on Elvish free will -- I'm just joking, but actually, I bought this TS volume mostly due to three things: the Kullervo tale and Kalevala essays, the essay "Strange And Free" (by Thomas Fornet-Ponse, includes considerations of Elves and free will), and a neat cover picture of a young Tolkien.

Of course there are other interesting contributions, but those are the main two that attracted me to buy.
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Fri Aug 21, 2015 7:52 am

I don't read Flieger anymore due to her stand on Elvish free will


This reminds of the discussion that we had four and half years ago at HoF. Fate and Free Will
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Galin » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:25 am

Hmm, the old me was younger then :)
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:37 am

Younger than your elthirian younger brother?
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Hobbit_Guy » Tue Aug 25, 2015 12:08 pm

Galin wrote:
One nitpick of interest: the commentary (and transcription / presentation of the original manuscript) in Tolkien Studies was by Verlyn Flieger, not Hammond & Scull. She is also the one editing this standalone publication.


That's true of course. For clarity then, I read Hammond and Scull's comparison (Finnish tale to Tolkien's prose story) in their Reader's Guide, the "sister book" to their book titled Chronology. In Tolkien Studies, although I saved the story itself so far, I could not resist reading Flieger's commentary on nomenclature, and I read one version of Tolkien's essay on the Kalevala.


That clears things up - you're usually on top of these things, so I couldn't figure out why you were saying "commentary by Hammond and Scull" when it's edited by Flieger. I didn't know about their commentary in the Reader's Guide - thanks for bringing it to my attention! It figures they would have an entry on the Story of Kullervo (and anything else of interest), but because I still haven't read the entire Reader's Guide (or Chronology) cover-to-cover, it didn't occur to me to check. The other day I meant to look up one piece of information but ended up going through 5 years worth of entries in Chronology because they were so interesting. :D
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby darthgandalf99 » Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:17 pm

Nice article about it on the BBC website. Came across it while browsing the main news stories.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34063157
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Lysandros » Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:16 am

I recently picked up a copy of "The Story of Kullervo" and gave it a read. My expectations were middling at best and if it weren't for the fact that I read Kalevala many years ago I would not have bothered. I don't read everything Tolkien and the last thing I did read was the Children of Hurin, which left me a bit cold. This little volume did as well though for different reasons.

Let's get right to it - the Story of Kullervo manuscript and the two versions of JRRT's lecture on the Kalevala are old. Very old. The man was in his early 20s. So essentially what you have is a very young, budding scholar getting a sugar rush on his research and also on his emerging fictional talents. This is not all bad but if you are looking for a great story in TSOK, you aren't going to get it. Now, to be fair, that's not the point of this release. Kullervo was a seminal influence on Turin Turambar, and Kalevala was a massive influence on JRRT himself. So it is neat to have this early story. But basically it is a fan-fiction piece. Its like if someone writting Role-Play on this site 15 years ago were now famous....would we be excited to read their early amateur RP efforts on here? Only so much probably. Its like finding a lost demo tape of the Beatles in their skiffle days. Of interest but not particularly amazing experience.

Plus, its only like 30 pages long. SO of course the author has got to pad this thing out. The commentaries are solid enough and her own essay and introduction do a good job laying out exactly what we have here in case you are not able to put it together yourself (or in case you have not read Humphrey's authorized bio). Then we get two versions of JRRT's lecture on Kalevala. So, again, this is a young JRRT here. The talk, frankly, is embarrassing. It is, mainly, the man pumping the tires of Kalevala, gushing about how moving it is and why everyone should read it. While he has enough citations and examples to splash a veneer of academic shine to this thing, it's a rant that overestimates the novelty and validity of its ideas. Again, this is super common in young university students. And we get two versions of it. There is no payoff in the repetition so...filler.

All in all, yes - for history's sake, this assemblage of materials needs to be out there. If JRRT stays relevant and continues to elicit interest from real scholarship you need a book like this as a handy compilation of some important early work. Having read it, I will never read it again. Kalevala on the other hand, me and the dark heaths are overdue to reunite.

If you indulge, buy the hardcover. The dust jacket features a terrific Kalevala-influenced painting by JRRT and it is super-super sweet.
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Re: Lost book by Tolkien uncovered?

Postby Denethor » Sun May 01, 2016 3:17 pm

Still haven't got around to reading the thing, on the basis that I really don't like being price-gouged (the book is blatant padding). Really, in a perfect world, it'd have been merged with The Fall of Arthur and the Beowulf translation.

(I'm familiar enough with Kalevala though. A shame that the online Crawford translation is godawful - it was translated via German - and the Kirby translation, which Tolkien read, isn't stellar either. Mind you, Kirby remained the main English translation until the 1980s).
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