Edited by Christopher Tolkien
With illustrations by Alan Lee
The tale of Beren and Luthien was, or become, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the Battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year.
Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Luthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Luthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Luthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Luthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril.
In this book Chrisopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Luthien form the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this “Great Tale” of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father´s own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien was born on 3rd January 1892 in Bloemfontein. After serving in the First World War, Tolkien embarked upon a distinguished academic career and was recognised as one of the finest philologists in the world. He is, however, best known as 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 60 languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide. He was awarded a CBE, and an honorary Doctorate of Letters form Oxford University in 1972. He died in 1973 at the age of 81.
Christopher Tolkien, born on 21st November 1924, is the third son of J.R.R. Tolkien. Appointed by Tolkien to be his literary executor, he has devoted himself since his father´s death in 1973 to the editing and publication of unpublished writings, notably The Silmarillion and the collections entitled Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-earth. He and his wife Baillie have lived in France since 1975.