(urth) ot-my mini review of Children of Hurin

don doggett kingwukong at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 16 00:24:37 PDT 2007

There are no spoilers here, but then I imagine most of
you are familiar with the Tale of the Children of
Hurin anyway. Recently, I acquired two beautiful
leather bound volumes of the Iliad and the Odyssey, 
both translated by Robert Fitzgerald (who I prefer).
I've read them both, the Iliad more than twice. I
bought Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf when it
first came out in hardcover, several years ago, and I
read Stephen Mitchell's translation of Gilgamesh even
before it was released. I also bought, and loved, WS
Merwin's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green
Knight. I don't mention this to brag, but only to say
that Tolkien's Children of Hurin is of a piece with
all of these works. It is not fantasy, except in the
sense that the fantasy genre has often been a lesser
(though the impulse is understandable) attempt to
emulate his work. And of all the aforementioned epics,
only the Iliad manages to stir me more, though Hector
is the only man in Homer's tale who could perhaps earn
his way into the ranks of the elf-friends. If this is
unmitigated gushing, so be it, but I love Tolkien's
vision of Middle Earth, and especially of the Elder
Days, and I'm grateful to be able to visit it again
after so many years. The text itself is around 220
pages and is constructed solely of JRR Tolkien's
words, edited together so seemlessly by his son that
one would never know it was taken from several
manuscripts. I can only hope that the same treatment
will be given to the Tale of Beren and Luthien and
also to The Fall of Gondolin. The Children of Hurin is
superb and tragic.


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