Top positive review
36 people found this helpful
My Master's Voice
on September 30, 2008
I've always wanted to read Tolkien's other works; I've read the Silmarillion a couple of times, and never really enjoyed it as much as the Hobbit or LOTR. But nonetheless, I've had an old copy of a Tolkien book called Tree and Leaf for years -- it was my parents' originally -- and I finally dove into it.
It's short, only two pieces, but it was excellent -- and excellent in a way that makes me ten times more eager to look for other Tolkien ephemera than The Silmarillion ever did. The first part of this is an essay, expanded from a lecture Tolkien gave, called On Fairy-Stories. And not only was it interesting and well-written, it had some absolutely brilliant insights; I don't know if they were Tolkien's or simply common knowledge among Oxford literature dons, but I loved reading about the power of adjectives, and the concept of the sub-creator, and the idea that a fantasy world does not require a suspension of disbelief, but rather an acceptance of an internal continuity that allows a sub-creation of a new world within the pages, a world that, if well done by the author and well-read by the audience, requires no suspension of disbelief but merely a shift in sensory input, from direct input to that which is imagined from the words. Great idea that I'm not doing justice to, but intend to revisit and clarify further in my own mind, and use to my advantage. It certainly reaffirmed my belief that Tolkien was the leading light of the fantasy genre, both because of his immense gifts as a writer, and because he understood fantasy, its advantages and disadvantages, its requirements and its place in literature and our lives.
And as a final piece of proof, the second piece in the book is a fairy-story that Tolkien wrote, called "Leaf by Niggle," which was simply lovely from start to finish. Twenty pages, and it encapsulated the sense of being a frustrated artist in the real world, and the advantages of living, therefore, in an invented world -- advantages that are not just for the artists, but also for their neighbors -- in addition to having a nice moral on the power of art to lead us home. Once again, Tolkien takes his place in the big chair.