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The Story of Kullervo

The Story of Kullervo
The Story of Kullervo.jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorVerlyn Flieger
PublisherHarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US)
Released27 August 2015 (UK)
5 April 2016 (US)

The Story of Kullervo is a book edited by Verlyn Flieger. The work reproduces J.R.R. Tolkien’s complete draft of ‘The Story of Kullervo’ with commentaries and articles by Verlyn Flieger.


[edit] Pre-publication history

In a 1914 letter to Edith Bratt, Tolkien mentions that he is "trying to turn one of the stories [from the Kalevala] — which is really a very great story and most tragic – into a short story".[1] Humphrey Carpenter notes that "'The Story of Kullervo', was never finished, but proved to be the germ of the story of Túrin Turambar in The Silmarillion".[2]

The manuscript remained unpublished for many years, but was published in 2010 in Tolkien Studies: Volume 7, edited and with a commentary by Verlyn Flieger.

In 2013, Eduardo Oliveira Ferreira presented an academic project to The Tolkien Estate, entitled "The Story of Kullervo", with contributions from Verlyn Flieger, John Garth, Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull and Shaun Gunner. The English and Portuguese bilingual book was approved by The Tolkien Estate on the condition that it be limited to 100 copies with the final text being subject to the Estate's scrutiny. However, when The Story of Kullervo was confirmed by HarperCollins publishers, Oliveira Ferreira's project was cancelled.[3]

[edit] Quotes

"The germ of my attempt to write legends of my own to fit my private languages was the tragic tale of the hapless Kullervo in the Finnish Kalevala. It remains a major matter in the legends of the First Age (which I hope to publish as The Silmarillion)"― J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 257

[edit] From the publisher

The world first publication of a previously unknown work of fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the powerful story of a doomed young man who is sold into slavery and who swears revenge on the magician who killed his father. Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. ‘Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny. Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruellest of fates. Tolkien himself said that The Story of Kullervo was ‘the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own’, and was ‘a major matter in the legends of the First Age’. Tolkien’s Kullervo is the clear ancestor of Túrin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion. In addition to it being a powerful story in its own right, The Story of Kullervo, published here for the first time with the author’s drafts, notes and lecture-essays on its source-work, the Kalevala, is a foundation stone in the structure of Tolkien’s invented world.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 1, (dated October 1914)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Note 6 to Letter 1, (dated October 1914)
  3. Eduardo Oliveira Ferreira, "The Story of Kullervo and the Brazilian contribution to its publication" dated 28 July 2015, The Tolkien Society (accessed 22 November 2015)