Monday 11 January 2016

Tolkien's Epic Fail - the tale of Turin Turambar

I have again been listening to The Silmarillion on audiobook - this time in the order as published, and have just finished listening to the Turin Turambar section.

I have written before about my dislike of this part of Tolkien's oeuvre

and I found that this was confirmed on the latest reading.

Those who especially like this story are advised to read no further! I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

Indeed, I think it could be shown that there are objective flaws in this part of the Silmarillion when regarded in the context of the whole - it is essentially a failure when considered a part of the epic.

Turin simply does not have enough good qualities to be a hero - indeed he is overall a thoroughly wicked person, a villain. But not a hero corrupted into wickedness like Feanor, or others of Tolkien's traitors and turncoats - Turin seem bad, dislikeable, dangerous from the get go.

Turin is apparently handsome, and a superhumanly effective fighter - but his courage, while great, seems fuelled almost wholly by negative emotions such as hatred and resentment; and therefore hardly counts as a virtue.

At best he seems more like a berserker, a deadly weapon that can be turned against anybody or anything, rather than a true hero.

Therefore, Turin's character simply cannot bear the weight of his assigned role in the legendarium - in particular, his prophesied role of being the person that finally kills Morgoth in the final battle.

Furthermore, the device (in the children of Hurin sections) of having the plot driven by Morgoth's curse does not fit into Tolkien's universe, it is alien to a world created by and ruled by Eru, The One - and comes into it from the nihilistic world of the Norse (or rather Finnish) pagan stories.

In sum, I regard the Children of Hurin in general, and the Turin Turambarstory specifically, as a jarring and dis-harmonious intrusion into Tolkien's mature world.

My personal feeling is that Tolkien had a sentimental attachment to the Turin story, as having been one of the very earliest of his developed stories developed from his first linguistic love of Finnish; and he just could not bring himself to do what he ought to have done according to the dictates of artistic integrity: deleted Turin from the Silmarillion; and consigned his tale to a separate universe.