What is Tolkien’s Tale of Beren & Lúthien about?

Beren and Luthien

With just under three weeks to go before the release of the publication of Beren and Lúthien, I thought I’d write a quick post about my thoughts on the oft mentioned couple and their place within the Tolkien legendarium.

The story of Beren and Lúthien is one of the three Great Tales, as is known amongst Tolkien readers. They form the major backbone of the First Age; the other two being The Children of Húrin and The Fall of Gondolin.

Primarily, Beren and Lúthien is not just about love. Through its two protagonists, and a wealth of secondary characters, Tolkien channels elements of hope, defiance, endurance and strength in his writing.

This story of a mortal man and an elf princess has repercussions throughout the entire timeline of The Silmarillion and beyond, even into The Lord of the Rings.

For the benefit of those who have yet to delve into this fascinating tale, I will restrain myself from revealing anything of the story. Suffice to say, it has its dark thematic moments. Pretty dark indeed. But there is also beauty and wonder in the narrative too.

Unlike The Children of Húrin, which has its specific function in Tolkien’s world, Beren and Lúthien is the literary jewel and beacon of light within an otherwise dark chronicle of The Silmarillion. It also deals rather eloquently with the concept of the small and seemingly weak facing insurmountable odds.

Let us also not forget the significance of this tale to Tolkien’s own personal life, with the names of “Beren” and “Lúthien” inscribed on John Ronald’s and his wife’s tombstones respectively. The couple’s love and journey through life is very much a reflection of the author and his own adventures and journeys with Edith Tolkien.

Come 1 June, no matter whether we’ve already seen much of the contents in its finished form in The Silmarillion or The History of Middle-earth, Beren and Lúthien is sure to provide us with a special reading experience that will surely be the basis of many deserved praises and discussions about the story and the creators behind it.

4 thoughts on “What is Tolkien’s Tale of Beren & Lúthien about?

  1. I cannot wait for the release of the book. Having all those early versions in one place will definitely make it easier and more convenient to see how the tale evolved over the years. Tolkien gave so much thought to Beren and Lúthien’s story – will be fascinating to dig deep into it.

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