Christopher Tolkien spoke with Reuters regarding the “new” book by his father, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. In the interview he noted that many Lord of the Rings fans won’t resonate with this work: “I dare say that a good many will be instantly put off by the very idea of ‘long narrative poems in verse’ and pursue it no further.”
If you’ve ever read through Tolkien’s History of Middle-Earth books–edited by Christopher Tolkien–and enjoyed much of the extended verse in there, I have no doubt you’ll get some joy from this new work. However, if you find it at all tough to make it through those narrative poems, pass on this and pick up The Silmarillion… or give The Lord of the Rings another read!
Here are a few excerpts from the article:
“I dare say that a good many will be instantly put off by the very idea of ‘long narrative poems in verse’ and pursue it no further,” he said. It was equally possible that their form will lend them an “unexpected impact,” he continued.
“My hope is that some of those who appreciate and admire the works of my father will find it illuminating in respect of Old Norse poetry in general, in his own treatment of the fierce, passionate and mysterious legend, and in this further and little known aspect of him as both philologist and poet. Above all I hope they will take pleasure in this poetry.”
“My father left one manuscript, and that was complete; there were no more than a few pages of earlier writings, and all other drafting has disappeared. The manuscript is in good clear handwriting, written out without corrections, and obviously intended to be a final fair copy. A few minor changes were made to it much later,” said Tolkien, who was appointed as his father’s literary executor and has over the past 36 years devoted himself to editing and publishing his father’s unpublished works, including The Silmarillion and a 12-volume History of Middle-Earth. “My ‘editing’ consists very largely of explanation and clarification.”