Of the Family of Húrin and the Notion of a Curse

I’ve seen the release of the reconstructed and expanded story of the family of Húrin, originally published in the Silmarillion, chapter 21. When I read it back in ’77, I was disappointed that the editor seemed to rush his way through the piece, or that JRR Tolkien hadn’t left enough material to flesh it out. It always struck me that chapter had enough ideas to develop into a full novel. Little did I suspect there was more to the narrative.
According to wikipedia, there was a lot more material in the story. I guess I should’ve been paying more attention to the Christopher Tolkien editions.

The Children of Húrin is getting some attention in blogging circles, I see. Zenit has a brief article on it, posted yesterday.

I noticed “film rights” and “interest” mentioned in the same sentence. I always though this tale and the story of Beren and Luthien would make marvelous movies, without resorting to the needful but unfortunate trimming the Peter Jackson epic suffered in the theatrical releases.
Count me as skeptical on the supernatural (or magical)  notion of a curse. It’s always seemed to me that human freedom permits a potential movement (some might say metanoia) away from the darkness. It struck me that Morgoth’s curse of Húrin and his family was more a statement of prophecy. Knowing the human drive for absolute self-determination, wasn’t it predictable that Morgoth would tickle the pride of these people, setting into motion events which contributed to their downfall?

The whole theme of the Silmarillion entails beings who find themselves unwilling to submit to the Divine. In a way they exemplify anti-pacifists, not only doing violence to those who stand in their way, but also engaging in a no-less violent struggle with the clear direction of the times. Luthien’s singing aside, there was clearly no way the Elves and mortals of Middle Earth were going to triumph over Morgoth, without a godly intervention.

There are relatively few actual heroes in the First Age, but the ones who exist exemplify a Christ-like sacrificial selflessness. Unlike pagan mythologies, the Tolkien universe is constructed entirely on personal responsibility and consequences for one’s good and evil actions.

And because of the Elves’ endless natural lives in Tolkien’s tales, they themselves experience the natural consequences of evil actions done hundreds or thousands of years before.

I’m in the middle of reading this book over here on the left. (My wife told me she doesn’t need to read it; she lived it when we lived in small-town Iowa.) It looks like I have a reading direction to go once I leave Gopher Prairie.

Any other good books read lately?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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