Talks on Tolkien II: summer series. Flieger on Kullervo

In the winter months of 2015, I posted a series, Talks on Tolkien, which consisted of presentations by Tolkien scholars that had been previously recorded and made available on the internet. As I was watching a live stream this morning from the New York Tolkien Conference Facebook page, I was reminded of how much I like being able to hear other scholars give presentations on their research, and how wonderful it is when you can get access to these talks even if you can’t travel to various conferences and special lectures around the world.

For that reason, and the fact that my previous winter series apparently appealed to quite a few viewers, I’ve decided to do a summer series. For the next couple of months, I’ll post every week a previously recorded video or podcast by a Tolkien scholar, usually with some comments and/or links to more information about the speaker and their topic. Just to be clear, I haven’t recorded any of these talks myself; as with my winter series, I’m simply collecting and curating already available videos and podcasts.

In this summer series, I’m planning to focus on new or forthcoming books and on approaches from different disciplines to the study of Tolkien.

Verlyn Flieger on The Story of Kullervo

The Story of Kullervo. J.R.R. Tolkien. Ed. V. FleigerFirst up for this week is a podcast featuring the eminent Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger, who has edited Tolkien’s Story of Kullervo. This is the latest in the “new” books by Tolkien that have been published in recent years, including his Beowulf, Fall of Arthur, and Sigurd and Gudrun. The Story of Kullervo was available in the UK and Canada late last summer but only a few months ago in the US, so the book is still fairly new to most Tolkien readers.

This edition includes the unfinished story about Kullervo that Tolkien wrote as a 22-year-old, inspired by the Finnish epic Kalevala. The book also includes drafts of an essay by Tolkien on The Kalevala, as well as Professor Flieger’s commentary on the material.

Professor Flieger’s talk offers an interesting view of this early work by Tolkien. She enumerates the ways in which Tolkien discovers and exercises his creative abilities in writing this story, and she presents ideas about how the story of Kullervo influences the tales that come later in The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings.

Verlyn Flieger at Exeter College, Oxford. from
Verlyn Flieger talking about Kullervo at Exeter College, Oxford. 12 October 2015. Image from

The audio file can be found on the Exeter College site here. Or you can listen to Professor Flieger right here:


To view more about Verlyn Flieger’s many scholarly publications and editions and her creative writing, check out her website,

For information about Tolkien’s inspiration for Kullervo, visit the Finnish Literature Society’s site on The Kalevala.




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