Lit in the Time of Coronavirus: Tolkien

Hello! Today’s post will be short, but worth it. I’ve reread an old favorite…

The Children of Húrin, by J.R.R. Tolkien

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“But Túrin sped far before them, and came to Cabed-en-Aras, and stood still; and he heard the roaring of the water, and saw that all the trees near and far were withered, and their sere leaves fell mournfully, as though winter had come in the first days of summer.”

This story is about a man named Túrin, who’s the son of Húrin, a warrior in Middle-Earth. The story’s a tragedy, since Túrin’s family has been cursed by evil.

It’s a good tragedy. The first time I read it, I listened to it on audiobook and loved it. This time, I also loved it. I even enjoyed it more than The Lord of The Rings.

It was interesting to see how Tolkien could tell many different story types. In The Hobbit, he was able to tell a fun story, in The Lord of the Rings he told a more serious and epic tale, and in The Children of Húrin he told what felt like a legend.

In spite of his distant style of narration (“It was said that X and Y and Z happened”), Tolkien provided enough humanizing details that I was still able to connect with the characters (“Túrin wept bitterly after XYZ but went to character ABC and said, ‘LMNOP’ [something kind]”). In tragedies, it seems the character is the most important aspect. Yes, some of the tragic events in this story felt a bit like they were based too much on coincidence and accidents, but the characters felt real enough for that not to matter much.

Overall, if you haven’t read this yet, do so. You won’t regret it (though you may cry!)