Narn i Hîn Húrin

The geek world is a-twitter with the news that an unfinished work by J. R. R. Tolkien has been completed by his son, Christopher, and will be published next spring.

The book is The Children of Húrin, and we’ve seen the tale before, in broad strokes or in fragments: it’s chapter 21 of The Silmarillion (“Of Túrin Turambar”) and the second chapter of Unfinished Tales (“Narn i Hîn Húrin”). The latter version was fragmentary (though not as fragmentary as some other parts in Unfinished Tales) but it seems that Christopher Tolkien has completed that narrative:

It has seemed to me for a long time that there was a good case for presenting my father’s long version of the legend of the children of Húrin as an independent work, between its own covers.

I can see why he’s done it. Large portions of the story are complete (see Unfinished Tales) and the story itself is quite powerful: a full-on epic tragedy that is Shakespearean in ambition and operatic in scope. (There are at least half a dozen operas in The Silmarillion alone; Tolkien produced enough material for an entire culture’s mythology.)