Book Review

Introduction to a Tolkien Review of Beren and Lúthien

My name is Andrew Arnold and for my third project of EH 603, Editing for Publication, I will be critically reviewing the posthumously published work of J.R.R. Tolkien: Beren and Lúthien. I have an interest in this work for many reasons. My first and foremost reason is to publish a review about the latest work of Tolkien. I have been a fan of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth since a very early age and to be able to add to the academic discussion of this novel, is a great honor for me. Another reason for reviewing this piece is to gain experience reviewing a modern work of fantasy. I am interested in this genre because I hope to create and publish my own fantasy work someday. I also have previous experience with editing fantasy novels. I was the primary editor on two fantasy novels, The Archer of the Lake and The Prince of the Vale, published in 2014 and 2015 respectively, so I hope to add to my work resume as well.

The first thing to consider when reviewing this novel is its readability as a full and complete work. Beren and Lúthien is one of many works that has been published posthumously and edited by the author’s son, Christopher Tolkien. These works were never completed and in there incomplete forms it’s nearly impossible to perform a cold reading of them without notes of explanation from Christopher Tolkien. In my opinion the best of Tolkien’s later novels are The Simarillion and The Children of Húrin because they can be enjoyed for their stories and do not require readers to have major backgrounds in the Tolkien mythos nor do they require extensive explanations from Christopher Tolkien to understand. Beren and Lúthien have sections that are very enjoyable to read as works of fiction, however between each section of this story; Christopher Tolkien has to explain when each section was written and how the story progressed from the earliest manuscripts to the later version of take that is presented in The Simarillion. Since many versions of the story of Beren and Lúthien are presented in this novel, many of these stories contradict each other. The best example of these contradictions is the fact that Beren is referred to as an elf in the beginning of the novel and then as a man at the end (41- 255). I plan to delve deeper in my comparisons of Beren and Lúthien to both Tolkien’s regularly published works like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and the before mentioned posthumously published works.

One of the main requirements of this project is to analyze rhetoric used by the author’s that we are critiquing. This is an interesting novel; as far as rhetoric because, J.R.R. Tolkien is considered a master of fantasy so he already has great ethos. However, much of this novel is explanatory notes written by Christopher Tolkien, who is known for documenting and publishing his father’s works. I am actually analyzing the rhetoric of Tolkien senior through the notes provided by Christopher Tolkien. I plan to be very clear in my review when I am analyzing Tolkien’s original manuscripts versus the later added notes of his son.

I have great personal and professional interest in reviewing Beren and Lúthien. First, I plan one reviewing this work as an actual complete work of literature. To do this, I plan on using other works published both before and after J.R.R. Tolkien’s death. Lastly, I will analyze the rhetoric that both Tolkien’s, father and son, use while presenting this novel. I hope that this review will help readers new to Tolkien and veteran Tolkien readers as well.



Works Cited

Tolkien, J.R.R, and Christopher Tolkien. The Silmarillion. Random House Publishing Group, 2002.

Tolkien, J. R. R. Beren and Lúthien. Harper Collins Publishers, 2017.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Children of Húrin. Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again. Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings. Houghton Mifflin, 2005.