J.R.R. Tolkien’s earliest story will be released to the public at the end of the month. The Lord of the Rings author penned “The Story of Kullervo” and never finished the piece. It is the beginnings of what was to become the saga of Middle-earth.
The book is loosely based on the Finnish poem the Kalevala. Tolkien started the book in 1914 when he was studying English and literature at Exeter College.
Kullervo is a character in the Kalevala described as “the only tragic character in Finnish mythology.” It is a tragic backstory with horrific subject matter. The story includes the death of his tribe, after which he becomes a slave and seeks revenge by killing all who were involved and then committing suicide himself. The character also accidently seduces his own sister which leads to her suicide.
Tolkien tried to rewrite the myth and ultimately stalled on it. Later in his life, Tolkien stated that it was “an important step in creating the legends and universe behind Middle-earth.”
Important to know, this material was originally brought to light five years ago. In 2010 Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger published the Tolkien Studies: Vol. 7 with essays by Tolkien. Some of those essays were titled, “The Books of Lost Tales: Tolkien as Metafictionist” and “Faërian Cyberdrama: When Fantasy Becomes Virtual Reality.”
The manuscript that was never finished will be published along with notes from Tolkien. The Story of Kullervo will be released in the U.S. on October 27. For you true collectors, the U.K. is releasing this on Aug. 27.