Tolkien and Arthur

In the early 1930s J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit, began what was to have been an epic, narrative poem, The Fall of Arthur, only to abandon the work in 1937. Now the incomplete poem has been published, edited by Tolkien's son Christopher.

Andrew O’Hehir, a senior writer at Salon, offers a review of the newly-published work in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Although flawed, O'Hehir find the poem compelling. He writes:

This is an action-packed, doom-haunted saga, full of vivid natural description, plunging us right into the middle of an apocalyptic war with almost no exposition. Arthur’s British kingdom, a Western and distinctly Christian realm of goodness and light, is endangered by a great shadow out of the East, which is at first simply presented as the land of the Saxon raiders but then comes to seem a vale of darkness whose warriors are spectral and perhaps supernatural.