The Children of Húrin

The New Book "The Children of Húrin" Edited by Christopher Tolkien
Merry
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Postby Merry » Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:44 pm

Maybe we just don't get how bad dragons are! :wink: It may be that if we did, we could forgive Turin much in exchange for ridding the neighborhood of the pest.

Is there a difference between sympathy and pity?
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Mar 11, 2008 11:51 am

I think there is - sympathy involves a kind of empathy, a mutual feeling, put pity doesn't need it. It's purer somehow.

I think Tolkien wanted Turin to be, in every sense, like the Norse heroes (also hard to sympathise with) and to then look at him through modern eyes so we can ask questions about what makes a man. Aragorn and Frodo are modern heroes that we can easily recognise but Turin is something wild and strange from an age that we can now barely conceive.

The Elves certainly pitied Turin and believed him cursed. Hurin died in their cause at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears and Turin lost his father. Thingol felt guilty for not seeing what was happening to him when he took him in and always saw him as a son. Beleg loved him despite all his flaws. He killed the dragon and rid the world of a great evil in a feat that no one could match. I think they always saw him as a great elf-friend because he was always with them (in intent at least) against the enemy, even though a lot of elves died because of his madder plans. And in the last battle, who better to wreak revenge against Morgoth with his rage? I think there was more to Tolkien's idea than honour. Perhaps it's Turin's right?
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Lindariel
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Postby Lindariel » Tue Mar 11, 2008 2:46 pm

I like your thoughts, Iolanthe. Also, I guess if you're going to look for Middle-earth's most righteous and capable executioner -- Turin would be your man. Who else would want to touch one of Eol's "black" swords? I just think that after Turin has played his role as Morgoth's executioner at the End of Arda, he should be granted the Gift of Men, not a place as "one of the sons of the Valar."
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Postby Merry » Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:43 pm

This is a great conversation--as my students would say, you guys rock!

I find myself wondering what was in this story for Tolkien. Was he just trying his hand at a tale about this kind of 'hero', in imitation of the Norse stories he had read? Was he dealing with his own participation in the War? Was he trying to reconcile fate and doom with his Catholic belief in free will?
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:47 am

I think all of those things were part of it. He had a great Hero in the Norse tradition, then started to find more and more interesting questions about Fate v Free Will as he wrote the story.

I agree that the idea of Turin amongst the Valar doesn't feel 'right', Lindariel. I wonder if he would have changed that had he stayed with the 'End of Arda' idea. It's possible that that honour reflects a different Turin from the one he ended up creating. It all depends on the date of the 'End of Arda' idea, the date of The Children of Hurin and the earlier poem which I haven't read yet. Perhaps Turin started out as a nobler hero and dragon slayer in Tolkien's mind, then evolved into something much darker and more interesting.

I'm intrigued now. Something to go off and study :D .
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Postby Lindariel » Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:52 pm

There was also Tolkien's desire for his mythology to provide the prehistoric "roots" for all of the myths and legends of Northern Europe, so that means he HAD to deal with the tradition of "Sigurd the Dragonslayer" and the sibling incest theme since this story was so very prevalent in all of the Nordic/Germanic sagas.

I do think that he made this story much more complex and interesting by engaging the fate vs. free will issue so deftly and directly. Was Turin truly cursed, or did he make his own misery? He also takes some of the squick out of the sibling incest theme by making Turin and Nienor/Niniel unaware that they are brother and sister until it is too late. In the Norse/Germanic tradition, the siblings recognize one another and become involved anyway, making the "sin" of incest all the more dreadful.

It is a very interesting treatment, Tolkien handles it masterfully, and it is well worth reading. But I still just don't like Turin!
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“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:13 pm

I've thought long and hard about the 'Was Turin truly cursed, or did he make his own misery' question. I even made extensive notes while I read the book :lol: . In the end I couldn't decide which side Tolkien himself came down on (perhaps Tolkien couldn't decide either) and meant to revisit all my notes and the book to try and get a clearer view of it, and possibly write a piece on it.

Now that my interest in it is piqued again perhaps I will, and read the poem too.

Good point about the Sigmund/Sieglinde incest theme - I'd forgotten while reading CofH that that scenario crops up in more than one story besides the Kalevala. Hard to believe as I've watched the Ring Cycle more than once :roll: .
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lyanness
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Postby lyanness » Fri Mar 21, 2008 7:48 pm

marbretherese wrote:
Iolanthe wrote: But I reckon I'm the only one who really likes this book...


I suspect you might be one of a select few, Iolanthe. I don't like it either; I find Turin's inability to take advice incredibly irritating and I can't find anything to like about him at all . . . :shock:


You're not alone, Iolanthe. :hug: I see a bit of me in Turin's stubbornness. maybe that's why I can relate to him. I currently find myself in a bad situation where advisers - including my parents - have given me council for 6 years, and only now I'm beginning to see that they may possibly have a point.
One's pride completely takes over when another gives advice, leading to the advice - good, excellent or bad - being overlooked. It seems to me that Turin was simply trying to "stand on his own to feet" as it were, besides having an immense amount of pride, appear tough and confident and mature for his age. He was just a mere human among elves, he had to act like something special for them to take any notice of him. Then he found himself among brutes who would easily kill him given half the chance. It's like the ranking order in a pack of wolves: to have any opinion in the "pack" of brutes, he needed to appear stronger than he actually was.

I completely understand Turin's situation as my situation is similar, in a way. I am the most qualified, but youngest RN in my ward and to get the staff to give me an iota of respect, I need to appear other than I am. If they knew that I have a soft heart and hate giving orders, I'd rather do the work myself, they'd walk all over me and the lack of leadership in the ward would the deterioration of patient care.
In Turin's case, a slight case of weakness or appeared weakness could but most probably would cost him his life.

I may not be able to change anyone's dislike for poor Turin. I just wish that all may see the situation from his point of view.

:flower:
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:51 pm

That's a really interesting perspective on it, Lyanness. He is at a disadvantage right from the beginning and I suppose that we have to allow for his need to constantly prove himself - prove himself worthy of his father, prove himself to the elves, prove himself to a very stern and strong mother even though she's not there to see it. That running in tandem with his hatred of Morgoth and his constant sense of injustice would explain a lot of his pig-headedness.
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Gal8h9d
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Postby Gal8h9d » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:50 am

I just love Alan Lee's paintings in this book, IMO they are outstanding, inspired me a lot.
We mustn't be too hard with the story, at least Christopher Tolkien has reconstructed it from various fragments, ar far as I understood the preface in my German edition. Maybe Tolkien himself would have smoothed/rewrote it in one or another way?...
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:34 pm

I don't know :-k, he seemed quite consistent with the style of it because I think he was sticking to the rather bleak storytelling of the Norse sagas. I really feel that the story benefits from that and gives us something entirely different stylistically from The Hobbit and LotR to enjoy.

I'm a bit of a champion for this book, really :lol: .
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Postby Philipa » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:08 pm

Iolanthe wrote:
I'm a bit of a champion for this book, really :lol: .


Yeah, yeah, we know. :P :lol:

Actually I've been thinking about picking it up again. But every time I do I look at the lovely illustrations and put it down again. :roll: I think I need to be in 'the mood.'
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Dec 10, 2008 5:14 pm

A bleak, fatalistic and despairing mood :lol: . The current economic climate should help all that along nicely :twisted: .
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Postby Philipa » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:56 pm

Iolanthe wrote:The current economic climate should help all that along nicely :twisted: .


Yes you would think so, but the holidays are almost here. It may give me a downer. :P :lol:
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:23 pm

Then I recommend the 'Letters from Father Christmas' instead!
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
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