Tolkien's first 'undeniably darkest' story set to be published this week
The first prose piece by 'Lord of the Rings' author J.R.R. Tolkien, a version of an epic Finnish poem that experts describe as "undeniably his darkest work", is to be published in Britain on Thursday.
Published by Harper Collins, the short story is due to be released on October 27 in the United States.
Written in 1914-1915 when Tolkien was still a student at Oxford University, 'The Story of Kullervo' shows the young author "finding his feet", Vincent Ferre, professor of comparative literature at University Paris Est-Créteil told Agence France-Presse in London today.
The story is "the first time that J.R.R. Tolkien, who had been a poet until then, began writing prose," Ferre said.
Fascinated by ancient languages from a young age, Tolkien was taken by the 19th century work of epic poetry, Kalevala, a compilation of mythology and folklore which tells the story of Kullervo.
"It's his earliest mythic story, and thus a precursor of all that is to come," said Flieger, who edited the edition.
"It is also undeniably his darkest work, and thus foreshadows the darker and more sombre aspects of his invented world."
According to Flieger, much unpublished writing by Tolkien is kept at the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, mainly "lectures and lecture notes, as well as shorter writings".
Ferre also revealed that the author's son Christopher Tolkien had released the best material in the Tolkien archive, including middle-earth, Nordic and Arthurian texts, and the "extraordinary" lectures and translation of Old English poem Beowulf.
"Clearly there remain hundreds of pages of work by Tolkien that are still unknown to the general public, especially concerning his invented languages."