As the media frenzy heats up for the first of Peter Jackson’s projected trilogy of movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, arriving in theaters on Dec. 14, news arrives that a previously unpublished 200-page narrative poem, The Fall of Arthur will be released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on May 23, 2013.
Tolkien, who died in 1973, appointed his son Christopher as his literary executor. In addition to the forthcoming book, the younger Tolkein has edited all of his father’s posthumous titles, from The Silmarillion in 1977 to The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún in 2009 (like the forthcoming title, this is a long narrative verse, which, even Christopher Tolkien admitted, was likely to “put off” fans of The Lord of the Ring).
Christopher Tolkein, now 87, who sued New Line Cinema for nonpayment of royalties from The Lord of the Rings movies, recently expressed dismay over the way his father’s work is now perceived, telling the French newspaper, Le Monde in July (translation here), that the films’ creators,
…eviscerated [The Lord of the Rings] by making it an action movie for young people 15 to 25. And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film….The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has gone too far for me. Such commercialisation has reduced the esthetic and philosophical impact of this creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: turning my head away.
Perhaps he will be cheered by the news that Stephen Colbert will have a cameo role in film two or three of the series.