Superversive on Hurin and the Critics
An excellent essay and book review by Tom Simon (superversive
) of Tolkein's CHILDREN OF HURIN. Mr. Simon logged this last year, but I have only just now seen and read it. Here is an excerpt:
When Túrin sees Niënor on the grave of Finduilas, the circle of memory is closed: for this is in truth a woman of his father’s house. But because he has never met Niënor before, and has no reason to guess that she has left the safety of Doriath, he fails to recognize her, and that circle becomes a noose that soon draws tight around them both. In the end Glaurung the dragon reveals to Niënor that Turambar, her husband, is also Túrin, her brother. Believing that he is dead, she despairs of him, and knowing that she has committed incest, she despairs of herself for shame; and nothing short of suicide can allay her grief. Then Túrin in his turn finds out the truth and kills himself.
This is the crux of the tale, the element Tolkien took from the Kalevala and made his own. It is only the ‘elvishness’ of The Children of Húrin, its place in the high matter of the Elder Days, that raises it above the sordid tale of Kullervo. But to know this you would have to do some reading; you would need to know more about the Silmarillion, and about mythology in general, than a Deveson is allowed to know without surrendering his licence to sneer.
In like fashion, Ms. Salij aims an ignorant barb at Tolkien, or what she fondly believes to be a barb:
Tolkien's weakness for making his heroes so very, very good and his villains so very, very bad is particularly grating. Middle-Earth is the place to go if you must have the morality of your fiction be black and white, and apparently the simplicity was worse early in its history.
Read the whole thing. ( Collapse )
Beyond any doubt Túrin is the protagonist of Children, and the hero of the tale if it has one. He has the interesting trait, common enough among ‘men of honour’ in primitive cultures and still more in their mythological traditions, of having the strictest scruples without any actual morals. He is stubborn, stiff-necked, wilful, impulsive, violently touchy, immune to good advice, and prone to murderous rages against his closest friends; I can barely resist adding, ‘And those are his good points.’ I can account for Ms. Salij’s complaint in only two ways. Either she had already made up her mind to complain about ‘black and white morality’ before ever reading the book, or she really does think that a psychopath like Túrin is ‘so very, very good’. I am not quite sure which explanation disturbs me more.