The Story of Kullervo

The Story of Kullervo

Book - 2015
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The world first publication of a previously unknown work of fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the powerful story of a doomed young man who is sold into slavery and who swears revenge on the magician who killed his father.

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 wrote 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; his Kullervo was the ancestor of Turin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion. In addition to 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."

Publisher: London :, HarperCollins,, [2015]
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780008131364
Characteristics: xxiii, 168 pages : illustrations
xxiii, 168 pages : illustrations
xxiii, 168 pages : illustrations
xxiii, 168 pages : illustrations
xxiii, 168 pages : illustrations
xxiii, 168 pages : illustrations
Additional Contributors: Flieger, Verlyn 1933-


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IndyPL_SteveB Aug 18, 2019

For most people, this is minor Tolkien; but for scholars it is a major find. This is the first book publication of Tolkien’s first attempt at fiction (from around 1912-1914). Kullervo is one of the characters in the Finnish epic story, *The Kalevala*, a collection of Finnish legends. Tolkien later said that reading *The Kalevala* was a major part of what got him excited about writing his own epic stories.

It is clear that the story of Kullervo was turned into the story of Turin Turambar, one of three major epic tales in *The Silmarillion*. An extended version of the story of Turin Turambar was published separately in 2007 as *The Children of Húrin*.

Tolkien’s attempt at re-writing the Kullervo tale is known only from one early short draft, only 35 pages, unfinished, and with character names changing as the writing continues. Most of the contents of this volume are commentaries by Flieger and two versions of a talk given by J.R.R. Tolkien about the Kalevala. Flieger is an interesting writer and one of the four or five most important Tolkien scholars; but I’m afraid there is a lot of detail here only interesting to other scholars. If your main Tolkien interests are hobbits, Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, etc., you can avoid this one.

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