Eloquence

I finished the Children of Húrin a week or so ago. It’s really quite good, as I said before (when I’d only gotten through the first five chapters). In fact, I already gave it to my oldest younger brother to read; he’s read the Silmarillion, and enjoyed it; hopefully he’ll end up as big a Tolkien fanatic as I am.

But I have one major complaint. My favorite quote from the Silmarillion version of the story was slightly altered. The book no longer says this line:

You have said, seek me in Dimbar. But I say, seek for me on Amon Rûdh! Else, this is our last farewell.
– Túrin Turambar, to Beleg Strongbow

That is about the most eloquent statement of willful stubbornness I have ever read. Why? Because the cadence of the line seems perfect to me.
You have said / seek me in Dimbar.
But I say, / seek for me on Amon Rûdh!
Else, / this is our last farewell.

The replacement line just doesn’t flow as well.

This example demonstrates very well my views on writing – above all, it must sound good. Each sentence must be able to be read out loud and give the feeling the line is supposed to communicate. All the other tricks of language – alliteration, rhyming, etc – as well as all literary devices – metaphor, simile, etc – are subordinate to this.

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One Response to Eloquence

  1. I’d just like to say that I’m playing the part of Túrin in a Children of Húrin play put on by some friends, and originally they had the shortened line, but I talked them into letting me say the original.

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