Harper Collins is set to release J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Story of Kullervo as a novel for the first time later this month. The Story of Kullervo, which Tolkien worked on in 1914, has been edited by US Tolkien scholar and Professor Emerita Verlyn Flieger, who published an essay on Kullervo in Tolkien Studies: Volume 7 in 2010.
“Apart from an appearance in some academic papers by Flieger, which is what brought it to our attention, this is its first publication, and like last year’s publication of Tolkien’s Beowulf, it now includes additional pertinent material such as drafts and lecture notes by Tolkien, which form an accompaniment to the fiction,” Harper told The Bookseller.
Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. ‘Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny.
Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruellest of fates.
Tolkien himself said that The Story of Kullervo was ‘the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own’, and was ‘a major matter in the legends of the First Age’. Tolkien’s Kullervo is the clear ancestor of Túrin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion. In addition to it being a powerful story in its own right, The Story of Kullervo – published here for the first time with the author’s drafts, notes and lecture-essays on its source-work, The Kalevala – is a foundation stone in the structure of Tolkien’s invented world.
The Story of Kullervo will be available in Australia on the August 24th, in the UK on August 27th and in the United States on October 27th.
Pre-order from Book Depository or Amazon.