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Children of Hurin Reading Group

Plato to MacDonald to Chesterton, Tolkien and the Boys in the Pub.

Postby contra mundum » 05 Jun 2007, 20:06

I saw a copy at the local bookshop yesterday and couldn't resist. So I'll join in the discussion too as I get into the book (which won't take long).
“Doubt no longer, then, when you see death mocked and scorned by those who believe in Christ, that by Christ death was destroyed . . .”

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Postby A#minor » 07 Jun 2007, 14:56

Oh, good! We need more people to join in!
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Postby contra mundum » 07 Jun 2007, 15:41

After starting the book, I couldn't put it down, and have now finished. I'm going to do a re-reading to digest a bit more of the detail, but I'll begin with some preliminary comments on chapter 1.

First, this account of Turin's early years alone makes this far more satisfying than the skeletal "Of Turin Turambar" in The Silmarillion, which says virtually nothing of his early years. Already here you can see Turin's character developing along the lines it will continue to follow for the rest of his short life. He is guarded and speaks little, but when he does speak he speaks plainly and literally, and prefers plain, literal speech over suggestion and innuendo. Pity moves him deeply, which is his most endearing virtue, and (not coincidentally) the virtue which most sets him apart from his mother.

Also significant is how Turin's relationship with his family shaped his entire life. His parents were distant--his father physically, his mother emotionally--so he spent his time either alone or in the company of outcast types, like Sador. And he is secretly protective of his younger sister.

Frankly, I don't see how anyone could read about Turin's relationship with Sador and not love him.

As for the mystery of Morwen: I suspect that she is a woman whose feelings run very deep, but she is incapable of articulating or expressing them. While only Tolkien himself could say something like that definitively, and we don't have many clues from the story itself as to whether that is true, that is how I read her character.
Last edited by contra mundum on 08 Jun 2007, 14:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby A#minor » 08 Jun 2007, 00:52

contra mundum wrote:As for the mystery of Morwen: I suspect that she is a woman whose feelings run very deep, but she is incapable of articulating or expressing them. While only Tolkien himself could say something like that definitively, and we don't have many clues from the story itself as to whether that is true, that is how I read her character.

Well, we know she was injured emotionally in life with all the battles and raids going on in that part of the country, so perhaps she was different when she was younger and the pain of losing those near her closed up the flow of emotion and the ability or desire to express it.
Good call, contra. :pleased: :read:
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Postby contra mundum » 08 Jun 2007, 14:55

I re-read the short description of Morwen at the front of the chapter, and it said (this is not a verbatim quote) that the "sorrows of the house of Beor saddened her heart."
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Postby A#minor » 12 Jun 2007, 23:36

I'm back reading again, and I find that Morwen shows more and more emotion as she decides that Turin must leave home.
She says, "I do as I think right; for why else should I part with the thing most dear that is left to me?"
And as Turin is leaving "she clutched the post of the door so that her fingers were torn."
Now that's some pretty strong emotion!

Chapter V
The friendship of Turin and Nellas is so bittersweet. I hate to think of her watching over him, but no longer his playmate. She must've been more of the ilk of the elves who sing silliness and jokes to Bilbo in The Hobbit, rather than the serious elves of LotR or Silmarillion.

It's a wonder how Saeros with his bitterness and malice could have been one of the close counselors of King Thingol. Thingol was no fool; wouldn't he have recognized those traits in his counselor? Not to mention Saeros had no honor, as he demonstrated when he attacked Turin from behind and without a proper challenge. And he showed by his conduct in the hall when he insulted the women of Turin's family that he had no respect, no wisdom; so why would Thingol keep him around? Saeros must have been a phenomenal brown-noser and liar to deceive old Thingol. The King even says in court, "Saeros I accounted faithful and wise."
Sounds like Saeros was a politician! Ha! Ha!

Chapter VI
I hate reading about all the killings and nastiness Turin does while with the outlaws. Tolkien even writes about it so nonchalantly. He kills a guy with a stone, or runs his captain through with a sword, and no one thinks a thing of it. I suppose it's just the dangerous times. They've all seen so much death that they are somewhat desensitized to it.
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Postby contra mundum » 13 Jun 2007, 18:59

A#minor wrote:Chapter V
* * *

It's a wonder how Saeros with his bitterness and malice could have been one of the close counselors of King Thingol. Thingol was no fool; wouldn't he have recognized those traits in his counselor? Not to mention Saeros had no honor, as he demonstrated when he attacked Turin from behind and without a proper challenge. And he showed by his conduct in the hall when he insulted the women of Turin's family that he had no respect, no wisdom; so why would Thingol keep him around? Saeros must have been a phenomenal brown-noser and liar to deceive old Thingol. The King even says in court, "Saeros I accounted faithful and wise."
Sounds like Saeros was a politician! Ha! Ha!


Possibly Saeros was a hypocrite for his entire tenure as Thingol's counselor, from his appointment to his untimely death. But he may have been true and good when appointed, and then gone bad. Thingol's increasingly warm relations with the Edain may have been an especially sore spot for Saeros, which would explain his hostility to Turin in particular.

A#m wrote:Chapter VI
I hate reading about all the killings and nastiness Turin does while with the outlaws. Tolkien even writes about it so nonchalantly. He kills a guy with a stone, or runs his captain through with a sword, and no one thinks a thing of it. I suppose it's just the dangerous times. They've all seen so much death that they are somewhat desensitized to it.


No doubt this is an exceedingly dark chapter in Turin's life. It is true that the killings of Turin himself tend, as a whole, to be more just than the killings of his companions. But for much of Turin's time with the outlaws (at least until the coming of Beleg) he is hardly salt and light among them.
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Postby A#minor » 15 Jun 2007, 21:38

Chapter VII Of Mim the Dwarf

I'm guessing that the "earth-bread" Mim gives to Turin's gang is potatoes. :lol: It just seems so funny to me, and yet very typical of Tolkien that he includes some of the simplest, most familiar aspects of the everyday in the middle of a high tale of glory and destiny. Good ol' fashioned potatoes. :pleased:

More and more Turin reminds me of driving a pig. (If you try to drive a pig one way, it'll go the opposite way.) He's just so contrary! Whatever the other wise characters advise him to do, he does just the opposite. It must be the curse making him be contrary. Image
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Postby contra mundum » 19 Jun 2007, 18:06

A ridiculous tangent: I've killed a strangely high number of very large flies in the last couple of days. I think I've killed all of them with one swat. So I'm thinking about naming the deadly swatter the "Plastic of Death" (nothing it swats survives), and maybe taking the alias "The White Swatter of Virginia."

[/derail]
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Postby A#minor » 21 Jun 2007, 19:45

Ummm.... ok? :thinking:


Chapter VIII-The Land of Bow and Helm
It's funny to me that Mim should be jealous of Turin and Beleg's friendship. Turin and Mim are two of the most unlikely friends I ever heard of. What could they possibly have in common or to talk of? At least Mim liked Turin enough to try to bargain for his freedom with the Orcs.
I wonder what is in Mim's past that he should hate elves so much?

I never liked Androg until now. Some good must have rubbed off on him during those months with Beleg and Turin.

I'm glad Tolkien added that Melkor was afraid that Turin would grow too strong and the curse would be averted. No matter what evil powers might intend, there is always a choice. We are still the masters of our own destiny by the choices we make for good or ill. So far Turin isn't making good choices though. sigh. Ah, well, he brings it on himself in the end, I suppose, by being so stubborn and pig-headed. Poor thing.
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Postby Yattara » 27 Jun 2007, 14:01

I've read up to Túrin and his fleeing Thingol's realm after Saeros's death. And I just want to kick him, Túrin, that is. You have the King for your fosterfather. He might be willing to listen to you. :rolleyes:

I admit I'm a bit biased, since I don't like Túrin all that much. He's too impulsive to my tastes. Even with the Doom of Morgoth counted in, it's just too much.
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Postby A#minor » 29 Jun 2007, 18:42

Yeah, sometimes Turin just needs a swift kick in the pants. :rolleyes:
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Postby contra mundum » 13 Jul 2007, 19:47

A#minor wrote:Yeah, sometimes Turin just needs a swift kick in the pants. :rolleyes:


Which doesn't work. In that sense he's a perfect example of what the book of Proverbs calls a fool: the wise receive correction, the fool does not.

One thing that fascinates me about Turin, though, is that he readily assumes that others will do the wise thing that he himself would never do. The best example of this is his assumption that Morwen and Nienor, having left Dor-lomin for Doriath, will remain in Doriath, under the protection of the girdle of Melian. While Turin himself not only fled Doriath (without very good cause, as he was ultimately justified in the case of Saeros), but then refused to return thither when Beleg implored him to do so.

Which shows considerable charity, and also naievete, on Turin's part.
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Postby nomad » 15 Jul 2007, 07:46

I've just bought it and read the first two chapters. Now I just have to catch up with the discussion, but I have to run just now. Anyway, I'll join in shortly.
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"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
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Postby nomad » 15 Jul 2007, 12:57

OK, so I read through what you guys said about the first few chapters. On Morwen's character, I think Turin gives us a clue when he is telling Sador about the kind of man he wants to be... fearless like his father, or else, like his mother, feel fear but hide it.

Also, her behavior as she says goodbye to her husband, although she doesn't cry, yet shows some tenderness.

I wonder, A#minor, if we don't meet people like this more often but don't recognize them precisely because they are like Morwen. Some people are very good at that. Some, like Morwen, hide behind a stern and strong mask. Others hide behind a joyful one. And both masks are reactions to painful experience of some sort.
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