The Lays of Beleriand

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The Lays of Beleriand
Publication Information
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
PublisherGeorge Allen and Unwin (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released22 August 1985 (UK)
20 November 1985 (US)
FormatHardcover; paperback
Pages393
ISBN0048232777
Preceded byThe Book of Lost Tales: Part Two (1984)
Followed byThe Shaping of Middle-earth (1986)

The Lays of Beleriand, published in 1985, is the third volume of Christopher Tolkien's 12-volume book series, The History of Middle-earth, in which he analyzes the unpublished manuscripts of J.R.R. Tolkien.

This book includes the five poems that Tolkien began to write shortly after The Book of Lost Tales phase. Only two of them were continued beyond the beginning, the Lay of the Children of Húrin and the Lay of Leithian, the latter being the longest poem Tolkien ever composed, although he didn't finish it.

Overview

The book contains the long heroic lays or lyric poetry Tolkien wrote: these are The Lay of the Children of Húrin about the saga of Túrin Turambar, and The Lay of Leithian (also called Release from Bondage) about Beren and Lúthien. Although Tolkien abandoned them before their respective ends, they are both long enough to occupy many stanzas, each of which can last for over ten pages. The first poem is in alliterative verse, and the second is in rhyming couplets. Both exist in two versions.

In addition to these two poems, the book also gives three short, soon-abandoned alliterative poems, which are The Flight of the Noldoli from Valinor, The Lay of Eärendel, and The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin.

The first versions of the long lays fit chronologically in with Tolkien's earliest writings, as recounted in The Book of Lost Tales, but the later version of The Lay of Leithian is contemporary with the writing of The Lord of the Rings.

Contents

  • Preface
  • III. "The Lay of Leithian"
    • The Gest of Beren and Lúthien — Release from Bondage
      Canto I — Canto XIV
    • Unwritten cantos
    • Appendix: Commentary by C. S. Lewis

Inscriptions

There is an inscription in the Tengwar characters in the first pages of every History of Middle-earth volume, written by Christopher Tolkien and describing the contents of the book. The inscription in Book III reads:

"In the first part of this Book is given the Lay of the Children of Húrin by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, in which is set forth in part the Tale of Túrin. In the second part is the Lay of Leithian, which is the Gest of Beren and Lúthien as far as the encounter of Beren with Carcharoth at the gate of Angband."

From the publisher

The third volume that contains the early myths and legends which led to the writing of Tolkien's epic tale of war, The Silmarillion.

This, the third volume of The History of Middle-earth, gives us a privileged insight into the creation of the mythology of Middle-earth, through the alliterative verse tales of two of the most crucial stories in Tolkien's world – those of Túrin, Beren and Lúthien. The first of the poems is the unpublished Lay of The Children of Húrin, narrating on a grand scale the tragedy of Túrin Turambar. The second is the moving Lay of Leithian, the chief source of the tale of Beren and Lúthien in The Silmarillion, telling of the Quest of the Silmaril and the encounter with Morgoth in his subterranean fortress.

Accompanying the poems are commentaries on the evolution of the history of the Elder Days. Also included is the notable criticism of The Lay of The Leithian by C.S. Lewis, who read the poem in 1929.

Publication history and gallery

UK Editions
1985 hardcover
1985 hardcover  
1987 paperback
1987 paperback  
1994 paperback
1994 paperback  
2002 paperback
2002 paperback  
2010 hardcover
2010 hardcover  

External links

A detailed list of unique writings and works by Tolkien in this volume, at Tolkienbooks.net

The History of Middle-earth series
i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand ·
iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow ·
vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated ·
x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · (Index)
A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by or mainly by Tolkien
On Arda Authored by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil · The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · The History of Middle-earth series
(i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand · iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow · vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated · x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth · The Fall of Númenor
Not on Arda Short stories
and others
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · Letters from Father Christmas ·
Mr. Bliss · Roverandom · Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictional works The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · The Old English Exodus · Finn and Hengest ·
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays · Beowulf and the Critics · Tolkien On Fairy-stories ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · A Secret Vice · The Battle of Maldon
Letters & poems The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien · The Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien
Other
academic works
A Middle English Vocabulary · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight · Ancrene Wisse
Books by other authors
Books on Arda The Complete Guide to Middle-earth · The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion ·
The Maps of Middle-earth
Tolkien biographies J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · Tolkien and the Great War
Scholarly books The Road to Middle-earth · The Keys of Middle-earth · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide ·
The Ring of Words · A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien's Lost Chaucer · Tolkien's Library · Tolkien on Chaucer, 1913-1959
Scholarly journals Tolkien Studies · (The Chronology)
Other works by Tolkien
Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar various issues · Parma Eldalamberon issue 11-22
Collections of artwork
and manuscripts
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · J.R.R. Tolkien: Life and Legend · J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator ·
The Art of The Hobbit · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth ·
Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
This list is only a selection, for a fuller bibliography of Tolkien see here or here. See also a timeline and an index.