Tolkien, Q.E.D.?

I found this crepuscular novel a chore to read. But that, some would say, is my shortcoming.
The Children Of Hurin
By J.R.R. Tolkien
HarperCollins Pages: 320;; Rs: 495
For once, the paltry space Outlook grants its reviewers does not seem like a personal slight. Really, what is there left to say about Tolkien? Only a fool would deny his astonishing achievement. Tolkien’s self-confessed ambition was to create what he called a Secondary World, a world "inside which the green sun will be credible". His is the narrative art at its most primal, the Scheherezadian need to tell stories or die.

The events in The Children of Hurin—already familiar to Tolkienistas from the extensive rummagings into the Nachlass by the author’s son Christopher—take place during the Elder Days, in the First Age so revered by Elrond in The Lord of the Rings. All the hobbit stuff is 6,000 years or so in the future. The fatalistic plot, in which dragon-slaying is interspersed with incest, follows that of a Finnish folk story; expect bleak Bergman Island rather than the cosy, parochial comforts of the Shire.

With Tolkien, the writing, the individual sentence, is never the point. His style, probably scrupulous to the ears of medievalists, is trying to mine. I found this crepuscular novel a chore to read. But that, millions of readers and tribes of academics would say, is my shortcoming.

Next Story : Thereby Hangs A Tale
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail
Lord Jagannatha’s Ratha Yatra is one of the great ritual showpieces in Hinduism. This meticulous study lists all, but leaves out the fascinating history.
MAGAZINE June 22, 2017
The great Qurratulain Hyder could be wonderfully gossipy yet notoriously tetchy. Jameel Akhtar brings out the real person, her world and her creations.
MAGAZINE June 22, 2017
One of India’s first female film editors, Patil’s story, shorn of self-pity, weaves personal and professional life and is also about breaking barriers
MAGAZINE June 22, 2017
Arresting imagery and details bolster Salim’s realistic, sensual portrayal of the opposite pulls of small and big town life, as the Grim Reaper waits patiently
MAGAZINE June 15, 2017
The horrific excess of the Inquisition in Goa is fertile ground for a writer. But this Konkani novel is an error-prone travesty at best.
MAGAZINE June 15, 2017


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

or just type initial letters