Beren and Lúthien

From Tolkien Gateway
This article is about the book published in 2017. For the the chapter in The Silmarillion, see Of Beren and Lúthien.
Beren and Lúthien
Beren and Lúthien 2017.png
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
IllustratorAlan Lee
PublisherHarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released4 May 2017
FormatHardcover; paperback; deluxe edition
Preceded byThe Children of Húrin (2007)
Followed byThe Fall of Gondolin (2018)

Beren and Lúthien is a collection of writtings by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien as a single book, published in 2017. It contains the various versions of the story of Lúthien and Beren previously published throughout the volumes of The History of Middle-earth.

The common plot is the story of the love and adventures of the mortal Man Beren and the immortal Elf-maiden Lúthien, and how they stole a Silmaril from the Dark Lord Morgoth's crown.

Tolkien wrote several versions of their story, the latest published in The Silmarillion, although the tale is also mentioned in The Lord of the Rings.

The story is one of three "great tales" set in the First Age of Tolkien's Middle-earth, the other two being The Children of Húrin and The Fall of Gondolin.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of the mythology of ancient Arda (the Creation through the First Age) conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien, which were published as The Silmarillion. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year.

Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal elf. Her father, a great elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril.

In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father's own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.

Contents[edit | edit source]

  • Preface
  • Notes on the Elder Days

Conception and development[edit | edit source]

The first iteration of the tale of Beren and Lúthien was written in late 1917[1] and was one of the first tales written by J.R.R. Tolkien which would form part of his legendarium. Tolkien later erased this original draft and wrote over it; the resultant text constitutes the earliest surviving copy of the tale, and was named "The Tale of Tinúviel".[1][2] There are a number of differences present in this early text when compared to the tale in the published version of The Silmarillion. Notably, Beren is an Elf, the character of Felagund is not present, and there is no mention of Nargothrond. This version includes a narrative predecessor to Sauron: Tevildo, Prince of Cats.

In 1926, the tale was incorporated into the earliest known version of what would become The Silmarillion, namely, the Sketch of the Mythology, by Tolkien. This was written as a brief synopsis of events, and would be the first in a line of directly evolving texts that would culminate in the final, published version of The Silmarillion. A notable alteration from the Tale of Tinúviel is that Tolkien had changed Beren to be a man.[3]

During this time, Tolkien composed The Lay of Leithian (from 1925[4] to 1931[5]), a poem telling the tale of Beren and Lúthien, which was refined to include the characters Felagund, Celegorm and Curufin, and the Necromancer Thû, the direct predecessor to the character Sauron. Tolkien abandoned the Lay before its completion.[5] Nonetheless, it is still an extensive piece of work, standing at over 4,000 lines long.[6]

Subsequent to the Sketch of the Mythology, the Quenta Noldorinwa was written in 1930. This was "the only complete and finished version of The Silmarillion" Tolkien wrote.[7] As in the Lay of Leithian, the character of Felagund is present in the story of Beren and Lúthien. The next main iteration in development of the tale was also the final version, as found in the Quenta Silmarillion.

Publication history and gallery[edit | edit source]

2017 hardcover  
2017 paperback large print  
2017 deluxe hardcover  
2018 paperback  
2022 paperback  
2023 paperback  

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Beren and Lúthien, "Beren and Lúthien: [Unnamed introduction]"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "I. The Tale of Tinúviel": "Notes and Commentary"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Beren and Lúthien, "A Passage from the ‘Sketch of the Mythology’"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Beren and Lúthien, "A Passage from the Lay Of Leithian"
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "III. The Lay of Leithian", pp. 150-151
  6. Power, Rebecca. "Tolkien's Penchant for Alliteration: Using XML to Analyze The Lay of Leithian." Journal of Tolkien Research 11.1 (2020): 7.
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Beren and Lúthien, "A Passage Extracted from the Quenta"
A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by or mainly by Tolkien
Of 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 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 of Arda Short stories
and poems
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · The Adventures of Tom Bombadil ·
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 · 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
Less known academic works A Middle English Vocabulary · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight · Ancrene Wisse · The Old English Exodus
Letters The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Books by other authors
Biographies J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · Tolkien and the Great War
Reference works The Complete Guide to Middle-earth · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
Scholarly studies The Road to Middle-earth · The Keys of Middle-earth · The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion ·
The Ring of Words · A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien's Lost Chaucer · Tolkien's Library
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 of works, for a fuller bibliography of Tolkien see here or here. See also a timeline.