The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R.Tolkien
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  • Date : 8/16/2021
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The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R.Tolkien


In The Fall of Arthur, Arthur recounts in verse what happened at the end of his final campaign, but as he stands at the threshold of Mirkwood, has to return to Britain as a result of Mordred's treachery. Guinevere's infidelity with the now-exiled Lancelot weakens Arthur, forcing him to rally his knights to repel Mordred's rebels and foreign mercenaries one last time. An unfinished poem filled with vivid imagery and a powerful sense of storytelling, this poem displays Tolkien's storytelling talent at its finest.

The editor, Christopher Tolkien, contributes three essays that explain the literary context of King Arthur, reveal the deeper meaning of the poems and the painstaking process he underwent to complete his father's work, and outline the fascinating relationship between the poem and Middle-earth.

With his single foray into Arthurian legend, he may well have achieved his finest accomplishment by bringing to bear the transforming perceptions of the old narratives a pervasive sense of the grave and fateful nature of all that is told in The Fall of Arthur. of Arthur’s expedition overseas into distant heathen lands, of Guinevere’s flight from Camelot, of the great sea battle on Arthur’s return to Britain, in the portrait of the traitor Mordred, in the tormented doubts of Lancelot in his French castle.


The Fall of Arthur was one of Tolkien's abandoned long narrative poems. A friend read it with great enthusiasm at the end of 1934, and asked him to finish it as soon as possible, which he eventually did, though it may have been in 1937, the year of the publication of The Hobbit and the beginnings of The Lord of the Rings. Years later, in a letter of 1955, he said that he "hoped to finish a long poem on The Fall of Arthur," but that day never came.


However, it has many manuscript pages associated with it: a lot of drafting and experimentation in verse, revealing the strange development of the poem's structure, in addition to several narrative synopses and tantalizing notes. The notes reveal clear, although mysterious associations between the Arthurian conclusion and The Silmarillion, as well as the bitter end of the love story between Lancelot and Guinevere that was never written.

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The Fall of Arthur