Tolkien Book Hailed as Prophetic

A Review of New Edition of "The Children of Húrin"

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ATLANTA, Georgia, APRIL 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- With the release of a new edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Children of Húrin," fans of this deeply Catholic author may be surprised by its biblical tone, says a Tolkien expert.



Jef Murray, artist-in-residence at the St. Austin Review, speaking with ZENIT, said, "'The Children of Húrin' has a more biblical tone than 'The Lord of the Rings.' It is a story of human fallibility and sin and may be prophetic for our times."

Painstakingly reconstructed by Christopher Tolkien from his father's manuscripts, the new publication released by HarperCollins last week is close to two versions previously published. The elder Tolkien died in 1973.

Christopher Tolkien corrected some contradictory elements, updated the chronology, and made the writing tone more accessible.

The book is illustrated by Alan Lee, one of the two conceptual artists for "The Lord of the Rings" movies.

Hollywood studios are already interested in the film rights.

The tale

"The tale itself has much to say of the nature of evil; how it manifests itself in the actions of angelic/demonic beings and, more importantly, in the foibles and sin of fallen man," said Murray.

The Narn i Chîn Húrin, as it is known in Tolkien's "Unfinished Tales," is an almost Job-like story of one family's struggles in Beleriand long before the tales of "The Hobbit" or "The Lord of the Rings."

Tolkien's satanic figure, Morgoth, curses the family of Húrin. And, just as with the story of Job, Húrin's wife, son and daughter all bear the brunt of that curse.

But unlike Job, the protagonist of the tale, Túrin, does not humble himself and seek God's grace and redemption.

Rather, Túrin attempts to flee his doom, but pride coupled with an attitude of self-righteousness drives him to commit greater and greater acts of sin and folly.

Murray explained, "The tale ends badly, but, as with all great tragedies, there are lessons here for our own times."

"We, too, often trust in ourselves rather than in God," says Murray, "and like Túrin, the world believes itself invincible and capable of meeting all challenges."

Murray concluded, "But sin taints all things, and without humility and trust in the grace of God, we are all in grave danger of following Túrin's path."