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New J.R.R. Tolkien Book: The Fall of Arthur

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | October 11, 2012 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | October 11, 2012 |

I don’t know how Christopher Tolkien keeps finding stuff in that attic of his dad’s after all of these years, but he really dug deep this time and managed to find an entire unpublished, book-length epic poem manuscript that he’s cleaned up for publication. The poem is entitled The Fall of Arthur and tells the story of King Arthur’s final days of life.

Literary scholars have indicated that there had long been rumors of the work, which predates The Hobbit, but that there was no evidence that it had ever been completed. The poem is written in alliterative verse, which means (if I’m parsing Wikipedia correctly) that it utilizing alliteration instead of the more familiar technique of rhyming in order to pull together the verse. Beowulf used alliterative verse back in the day, before it was cool.

Here are the first few lines of the poem:

Arthur eastward in arms purposed his war to wage on the wild marches, over seas sailing to Saxon lands, from the Roman realm ruin defending. Thus the tides of time to turn backward and the heathen to humble, his hope urged him, that with harrying ships they should hunt no more on the shining shores and shallow waters of South Britain, booty seeking.

I have a theory, given the generally sad job that sons do with their fathers’ literary legacies. [Cough] Brian Herbert [cough]. I think that the fantastic job that Christopher Tolkien has done with managing the publication of what his father left behind, combined with finding a “new” book after all these years is convincing evidence that Christopher Tolkien is in fact J.R.R. Tolkien himself, who took on the identity of his own son in order to hide his immortality from public view.

The Fall of Arthur will be published in the Spring of next year. Peter Jackson is working on a pitch for a seven-film cycle based on the poem, though that might balloon into fourteen once he actually sees the poem.

(source: Blastr)

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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.