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Question re: The Children of Hurin

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message 1: by Kendra (new)

Kendra Can someone answer a question for me? Is 'The Tale of the Children of Húrin' a separate book from 'Unfinished Tales', or is it a story within them? I only ask because my library has 'The Tale of the Children of Húrin' listed as a book on its own as a "fully continuous and standalone story", but then I saw the title included as a story in 'Unfinished Tales', so I got confused as to what would be different (I have yet to read either, btw.). Is it a short story in 'Unfinished Tales', but a full-length book in 'The Tale of the Children of Húrin'? An answer would certainly help in my future readings. Thanks!

message 2: by Mitali (last edited Jan 23, 2015 03:59AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mitali The Children of Hurin is a story within the larger story, The Silmarillion. The Silmarillion is essentially the origin story of Middle-Earth, and is set thousands of years before LOTR/The Hobbit. Tolkien never finished a definitive version of it, as he kept working on it his whole life, and kept changing/expanding the stories within it. After his death, it was edited into a coherent narrative and released by his son, Christopher. Some years later, Christopher collected different, lengthier (but incomplete) versions of some of the stories in The Silmarillion, as well as a lot of additional material from his father's notes, and published it as Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth. Some years after that, he put together an even longer version of one of the tales which appears in both these books, namely, The Children of Hurin, and published it as a standalone novel.

So essentially, the story The Children of Hurin exists as three separate versions:
* a short but fairly complete version written mostly by JRR himself, with minimum editing by Christopher in The Silmarillion,
* a longer but incomplete version in Unfinished Tales, edited somewhat by Christopher,
* a novel-length version in the standalone book, The Children of Hurin, which is edited considerably by Christopher.

If you haven't read The Silmarillion, then don't read Unfinished Tales, as most of the tales and information in that won't make much sense to you without knowing the full story of The Silmarillion. But you can read The Children of Hurin on its own, as it's a mostly standalone story, and the larger context is explained within the book itself.

message 3: by Kendra (new)

Kendra Ah I get it. Thank you! I do plan on reading his books in chronological order, but now I really don't want spoilers when I read it in Unfinished Tales, since I planned on reading The Children of Hurin novel! Would it be okay, do you think, to skip over the short version in Unfinished Tales, or does it have information that I would need farther into that book?

Mitali Unfinished Tales is a collection of unconnected bits and pieces from a variety of Tolkien's works. You can read the tales* in it in any order, or skip some if you like. But as I said, you do need to have read The Silmarillion to understand most of the tales in Unfinished Tales.

*Some are not even 'tales', really - more like essays or further information on various bits of Tolkien's works, such as the Wizards in LOTR.

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