Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Leaf by Niggle" in Poems & Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Leaf by Niggle” in Poems & Stories
by J.R.R. Tolkien [828 Tolk] 

I have read a lot of Tolkien, the Middle Earth novels and others including Smith of Wooten Major, Farmer Giles of Ham and Roverandom, but this story, Leaf by Niggle, is my favorite. It’s very short so it’s one a few stories included in the Poems and Stories book by Tolkien. On the face of it the story is set in the real world. A man named Niggle is living in a cottage in the countryside and has only one neighbor. This neighbor has a bad leg and asks for Niggle’s help fairly frequently with gardening and repairs. Niggle helps whenever he’s asked but is obsessed with painting; his work in progress is a painting of a tree that plays in his mind while he’s not at the canvas. Niggle knows his time is running out to finish it because of an unavoidable trip that was scheduled long ago. The reader is not let in on how he knows that a carriage will soon arrive to take him away, or where it will take him. We follow his journey further but it’s open to interpretation where exactly he goes and what is happening to him. It’s a story to think and talk about because it could mean a lot of different things depending on the reader. I think it is well worth reading. Don’t think you need to know anything about Lord of the Rings to enjoy this Tolkien story, because they are not related. You’ll spend more time thinking about it afterwards than it takes to read.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder or The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho] [ Wikipedia page for “Leaf by Niggle” ] | [ Wikipedia page for Poems & Stories ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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1 comment:

pejorg2000 said...

It's worth noting that this story was specifically written to illustrate some of the principles Tolkien explored in his essay, "On Fairy Stories," especially regarding his concept of "subcreation." The story stands up well on its own, but reading it in connection with the essay gives it an additional dimension.