|In May 2013 there will be released the world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien, a 1,000-line poem which tells the extraordinary story of the final days of England’s legendary hero, King Arthur.
The Fall of Arthur recounts in verse the last campaign of King Arthur who, even as he stands at the threshold of Mirkwood is summoned back to Britain by news of the treachery of Mordred.
Already weakened in spirit by Guinevere's infidelity with the now-exiled Lancelot, Arthur must rouse his knights to battle one last time against Mordred's rebels and foreign mercenaries.
Powerful, passionate and filled with vivid imagery, The Fall of Arthur reveals Tolkien's gift for storytelling at its brilliant best. Originally composed by J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1930s, this work was set aside for The Hobbit and has lain untouched for 80 years.
Now it has been edited for publication by Tolkien's son, Christopher, who contributes three illuminating essays that explore the literary world of King Arthur, reveal the deeper meaning of the verses and the painstaking work that his father applied to bring it to a finished form, and the intriguing links between The Fall of Arthur and his greatest creation, Middle-earth.
HarperCollins, which will publish the poem next May, was taken aback when Tolkien's son contacted the company about publishing the work.
Christopher Tolkien has devoted years of research to deciphering his father's manuscript fragments. The poem's existence was known only from the briefest of mentions in two letters and six lines that Tolkien's biographer, Humphrey Carpenter, was allowed to publish.
Chris Smith, editorial director at HarperCollins, said:
"We'd never seen it until a manuscript was delivered to us. It's completely unpublished, apart from the handful of lines in the Carpenter biography. In the two letters, you have these scant but tantalising references to it. That's the reason it's known about, but no one has had access."
Christopher Tolkien has been unable to establish exactly when the poem was written. The author made a single reference to it in a 1955 letter and kept a 1934 letter from his friend, RW Chambers, professor of English at University College London, who wrote: "It is very great indeed ... really heroic ... You really must finish it."
This is probably the most exciting news in a long time and of all possible publications the one I have been looking forward to the most of all. I sort of guessed and speculated about the release since 2007, when the manuscript labeled 'fall of arthur' sort of 'left' the bodleian library archives... but now we know why. Surely this is the 'one' book many Tolkien fans wish to read, but will it be a book that also will be loved by others? I believe so. This is a topic that will be deep in the hearth of Christopher Tolkien, so the text introducing the book and the three essays will be most interesting, the poem itself by J.R.R Tolkien, (almost) 1000 lines, will be telling a tale so many of us know. Combing Tolkien and Arthur always felt like a strange thing, but somehow I'm certain it is going to be an amazing work! I'm pre-ordering today.
|Title: The Fall of Arthur
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Editor: Christopher Tolkien
Publication Date: 23 May 2013
Type: hardcover, 240 pages
Type: deluxe edition, 240 pages
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