Tolkien Gateway

The Story of Kullervo

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

The Story of Kullervo is a collection of several texts by J.R.R. Tolkien, including the prose story of Kullervo, an ill-fated character in the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic compiled by Elias Lönnrot. The book was published in 2015, edited by Verlyn Flieger with commentaries and notes.

The texts were written by Tolkien when he was an undergraduate at Exeter College, Oxford, from 1914 to 1915. It was an unsettled period for him and this is thought to be reflected in the story's dark subject matter.[1]

The story is significant in the development of Tolkien’s legendarium as it provided the basis for Túrin Turambar, a tragic hero of The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin.


[edit] Contents

The main contents of the book are:

  • The Story of Kullervo (Kalervonpoika)
    • Notes and commentary
  • On 'The Kalevala' or Land of Heroes — (manuscript draft)
    • Notes and commentary
  • The Kalevala — (typescript draft)
    • Notes and commentary
  • Tolkien, The Kalevala, and 'The Story of Kullervo' — 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 [of the Kalevala] — which is really a very great story and most tragic — into a short story".[2] 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".[3]

The manuscript remained unpublished for many years, but was finally published in 2010 in Tolkien Studies: Volume 7, edited and with commentaries by Verlyn Flieger, who has also edited Smith of Wootton Major and Tolkien On Fairy-stories.

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.[4]

[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] Publication history and gallery

2015 paperback  
2016 hardcover deluxe edition  

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


  1. Emily Watson explores the meaning of an early and dark Tolkien short story (accessed 13 June 2022)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 1, (dated October 1914)
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Note 6 to Letter 1, (dated October 1914)
  4. 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)