Sunday Times: X-rated Tolkien: it's not for the kiddies
A darkness is once again descending on JRR Tolkien's fabled land of Middle-earth. An unfinished work completed by the writer's son is such a departure from the world of hobbits that it may merit an X-certificate.
The manuscript for The Children of Hurin, to be published next spring, contains incest, suicide and a multitude of violent deaths. Any film version is likely to have restricted audiences because of the subject matter.
Christopher Tolkien has spent the past 30 years working on the epic tale that his father began in 1918 while on leave from the army. JRR, who was recovering from trench fever contracted during the battle of the Somme, later abandoned the work.
Much of Tolkien's abandoned work was published many years ago in the book Unfinished Tales. I have to say, it's a stonking tale, and it's a real shame he never got to finish it. I don't know why his son felt the need to finish it, as the published (albeit unfinished) version stands on its own two feet.
Anyway, be that as it may, I've just had a thought. Excuse me while I completely nerd-out for a few bullet points (I read an awful lot of Tolkien in my youth, don't you know?):
- The Children of Hurin goes by the full, made-up-Tolkien-language title Narn I Hin Hurin (literally The Lay of the Children of Hurin—Lay meaning poem in obsolete English). So, the word Narn means poem (or poetic tale) in made-up-Tolkien-language;
- Tolkien's best friend was C.S. Lewis, but Tolkien got somewhat pissed off with Lewis because Lewis kept nicking his ideas;
- C.S. Lewis's poor excuse for a Tolkien-rip-off fantasy land was named Narnia;
- … I reckon Lewis based the name Narnia on Tolkien's word Narn—so Narnia would mean The Land of Poetic Tales.
Well, that's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.
(OK, I know, I'll get my coat.)
See also: A Rather Curious Number