J.R.R. Tolkien’s Beren and Lúthien Tale Published For the First Time 

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Front cover of the 2017 hardback edition — Credit: HarperCollins

A text by the British author, J.R.R. Tolkien, written in 1917, was for the first time published this Thursday June 1st by the HarperCollins house. 

Prefiguring the mythology of the Lord of the Rings, the tale reflects the horrors of the First World War lived by the novelist.

It is Romeo and Juliet by J.R.R. Tolkien: an impossible love story between a man and an elf, and a founding account of Middle-earth, the legendary world of the Lord of the Rings. 

For the first time since its original version, written a hundred years ago by the British writer, the “epic tale” of Beren and Lúthien was published Thursday June 1st by the publishing house HarperCollins.

The book was published with the son of the author of the Lord of the Rings, Christopher Tolkien (92), in charge of his father’s literary heritage since his death in 1973. 

JRR Tolkien began writing the work in 1917, a few months after his return from the Battle of the Somme in France during the First World War. 

According to specialist John Garth, interviewed by the BBC, “this book served as an exorcism for the appalling experiences he experienced on the battlefield.”

The tale of Beren and Lúthien traces a series of desperate quests mingled with a forbidden love, that of Beren, a mortal man, and Luthien, an immortal elven princess. It would be inspired by the meeting between Tolkien and his wife, Edith Bratt. On the death of the latter, the author also engraved “Luthien” on the grave.

The story is mentioned in another book by Tolkien The Silmarillion (1977), which tells the first ages of Middle-earth, as well as in The Lord of the Rings. 

This tale prefigures the impossible romance between the human king Aragorn and the elf Arwen in the famous trilogy, which fell centuries later in the chronology of Middle-earth (during the Third Age).

The edition is beautifully illustrated by the British artist Alan Lee, the historical draftsman of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien (Bilbo the Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings).