My mind has just been blown. A new epic poem about the last stage of King Arthur’s reign is being published this May. The author? J. R. R. TOLKIEN. Only the greatest fantasy writer of all time… and no longer living, unfortunately. So how is a book of his being published, you may ask. Apparently he wrote it before he even wrote The Hobbit, but it was never published. His son, Christopher Tolkien, has taken on the job of editing and publishing it. How amazingly fantastic is that?
There are many other eccentricities about this publication. It is written in narrative poem, 200 pages of it. And unlike most Arthurian literature, it is centered on the end of Arthur’s reign and his ultimate downfall. Here is the official synopsis:
The Fall of Arthur recounts in verse the last campaign of King Arthur who, even as he stands at the threshold of Mirkwood is summoned back to Britain by news of the treachery of Mordred. Already weakened in spirit by Guinevere’s infidelity with the now-exiled Lancelot, Arthur must rouse his knights to battle one last time against Mordred’s rebels and foreign mercenaries.
Powerful, passionate and filled with vivid imagery, The Fall of Arthur reveals Tolkien’s gift for storytelling at its brilliant best. Originally composed by J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1930s, this work was set aside for The Hobbit and has lain untouched for 80 years.
Now it has been edited for publication by Tolkien’s son, Christopher, who contributes three illuminating essays that explore the literary world of King Arthur, reveal the deeper meaning of the verses and the painstaking work that his father applied to bring it to a finished form, and the intriguing links between The Fall of Arthur and his greatest creation, Middle-earth.
Note of clarification: the Mirkwood referred to is the real Mirkwood in Germany, not in Middle-Earth. Although it would be extremely interesting to see King Arthur alongside Aragorn and Gandalf…
I don’t know how enthusiastic other fans are about reading this, but I know I certainly am. I will be waiting with anticipation until this is finally released, come the 23rd of May. Here is a very informative article for those who want more information: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/oct/09/jrr-tolkien-new-poem-king-arthur.