Beren and Lúthien

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Beren und Lúthien is the title of a book published in June 2017 with texts by the author JRR Tolkien , which were compiled, commented on and edited by his son Christopher Tolkien . The book contains previously published material. Christopher Tolkien first tells the story in its original form using his father's words. He then contrasts this text with further developments and changes. Alan Lee made nine color illustrations and 25 black and white drawings for the visual design of the book. The German hardback edition in the translation by Hans-Ulrich Möhring and Helmut W. Pesch was published in several editions by Klett-Cotta Verlag in 2017 .

Description of the book

The book consists of 303 pages and is dedicated To Baillie . Baillie Tolkien, born in 1941, is the second wife of Christopher Tolkien. In addition to a list of the color tables and the foreword, the book contains another five parts:

  • Notes on the Elder Days
  • Beren and Lúthien

The appendix consists of the sections

  • Revised passages of the Leithian song
  • Directory of names
  • glossary

Along with numerous illustrations, the book decorations in the type area between sections vignettes and chapter beginnings simple initials on.

In the foreword , the editor Christopher Tolkien explains his motivation for publishing this book. Due to the "apparently eccentric way of working" of his father JRR Tolkien, the story of Beren and Lúthien was not easy to merge, because it is spread over several years and books in progress, such as the Silmarillion . Tolkien himself described Beren and Lúthien as "the most important story in the Silmarillion". According to Christopher Tolkien, the attempt to detach them from the different contexts succeeded by combining several manuscripts, prose and poems and thus being able to present descriptions true to the original, more detailed and more exciting than in the inevitably simplified representation in the Silmarillion .

The section on the oldest days briefly deals with the historical foundations and connections of Tolkien's fictional world Middle-earth and deals with the main opponents in the eternal struggle of good against evil . Evil therefore existed before the world and took on a materialized earthly form as Morgoth or Black Enemy . The other side of the inevitable confrontation with Morgoth is the Elves . In early writings, JRR Tolkien sometimes used the term elvish instead of elvish for these peoples, who were also at odds with one another and pursued different interests. Some battles were won, but in the end Morgoth could hold his own.

The main part of the book consists of the story of Beren and Lúthien with several sub-chapters, including

  • The story of Tinúviel (Lúthien)
  • Excerpts from the Leithian song
  • Extracts from the quenta

and other chapters in which the editor documents connections, frameworks and biographical notes on the work of JRR Tolkien.

Tolkien tells the beginning of the Tinúviel story in prose . It describes the first meeting between Lúthien and Beren, the mutual affection and the condition that Tinúviel's father sets for a marriage: Beren is supposed to bring back a Silmaril (a kind of jewel) stolen from Melkor (Morgoth). The story inevitably takes on the character of an exciting adventure. It ends with notes from the editor, who, with references to Tolkien's manuscripts from 1918 and the 1920s, leads on to the next chapter, the Leithian song (The Lay of Leithian). This song is written in verse but ends unfinished. For the end of the story, Tolkien has several versions, which are briefly summarized in prose as a synopsis .

In the following chapters, the book also turns to the Quenta ( Quenya word for story). The Quenta Silmarillion is a manuscript written by Tolkien in 1930 that is the only complete version of the Silmarillion . Here, too, the material by Beren and Lúthien appears, albeit shortened. Tolkien broke off work on the Lethian song at the end of 1931, because he now devoted himself to the Lord of the Rings . However, he still made changes afterwards. The book ends with an appendix that contains a list of the various revisions of the story of Beren and Luthien, a list of names that documents the differently related names of the characters, and a glossary of the translators who explain their choice of words, sometimes ancient terms, analogous to the old ones English language, explain.


It tells the story of Beren's great love for the Elf Lúthien . Beren met her when he was passing through the forests of Doriath in search of help for the people . At first sight he fell in love with the elf dancing and singing to a magical melody. But this disappeared when she noticed him. He looked for her for a long time and followed her deeper into the forest until he finally came to the cave fortress "Menegroth" of her father of the elf prince Elu Thingol and his wife, Maia Melian. He asked for her hand there and was initially turned down by Thingol, who harbored a deep dislike for all people. But Melian talked into her husband's conscience, so that Thingol decided to entrust Beren with an unsolvable task, which he assumed that Beren would be killed if he tried to fulfill it. So he generously promised Beren the hand of his daughter if she would get him the Silmarill from the crown of Melkor .

Beren's love for Lúthien is so great that he accepts this challenge and goes to Melkors fortress. On his dangerous path, Beren has to fight orcs and the great wolves of Melkor. The unfortunate Lúthien is locked up in a large tree by her father to prevent her from following Beren. But she finds a way to leave this tree and support Beren in his task. The big dog Huan also stands by the two of them. And although Beren manages to get the Silmaril with Lúthien's help, this mission ends fatally for Beren. At Lúthien's plea, Mandos lets him return to the living, as a condition for this favor the Elf must give up her immortality.

Changes and connections

In almost 20 years, parts of the narrative, the edition form as prose work or verse epic or the shape and names of the beings described changed in part as an adaptation to the change in the mythology of Tolkien about Middle-earth. So Beren was initially an Elf from the Noldoli people (called gnomes by Tolkien) while Lúthien has always remained a daughter of the Teleri Elf people. As the complex history of Middle-earth progressed , Beren became a Son of Man. Other creatures, like the cat king Tevildo, who initially appeared in the story as a counterpart to the great dog Huan, also changed. He first became Thû, an evil magician who enslaved Beren and later Maia Sauron , who embodies evil in the Lord of the Rings' Middle-earth . Other characters such as the bat woman Thuringwethil, a messenger from Morgoth who ambushed Lúthien and Huan in front of the Angband fortress , disappear entirely. Christopher Tolkien tries by adding comments to classify the development of these changes in the overall work.

Editions of the narrative (selection)

  • JRR Tolkien: Beren and Lúthien. Ed .: Christopher Tolkien. HarperCollins, London 2017, ISBN 978-0-00-821419-7 .
  • JRR Tolkien: Beren and Lúthien . Ed .: Christopher Tolkien. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2017, ISBN 978-3-608-10888-0 ( [PDF; 298 kB ] English: Beren and Lúthien . Translated by Hans-Ulrich Möhring, Helmut W. Pesch, with illustrations by Alan Lee; Reading sample).

The story of Beren and Lúthien can also be found in the following works

As audio book versions

  • JRR Tolkien collection. ISBN 0-00-104273-4 (cassette 1: Christopher Tolkien reads The Silmarillion "of Beren and Luthien." )

Setting the lay to music


  • Wiebke Brauer: “New” book after 100 years: Tolkien's last love. In: Der Spiegel. June 10, 2017 ( ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Beren and Lúthien. on
  2. JRR Tolkien: Beren and Lúthien. P. 13 ff.
  3. JRR Tolkien: Beren and Lúthien. P. 22 ff.
  4. JRR Tolkien: Excerpt from the sketch of the mythology. In: Beren and Lúthien. P. 101 ff.
  5. JRR Tolkien: Beren and Lúthien. P. 223.
  6. JRR Tolkien: Beren and Lúthien. P. 226 ff.
  7. Sebastian Gollnow: Tolkien's love story from Middle-earth. "Beren and Luthien" . In: Südkurier Online . July 11, 2017 ( ).