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Tree and Leaf: Including "Mythopoeia" Paperback – February 5, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Tolkien's essay reveals the value or role of fairy stories for those who may be fantasy-challenged. Children already know that there are dragons. Fairy tales don't scare children by telling them this terrible secret. The role of the fairy tale is to reveal that dragons can be killed. The dragon is the catastrophe. The slaying of the dragon is the eucatastrophe.
Tolkien also notes that we are all subcreators, that it is a natural role for us. (I think he was writing about other authors but anyone who daydreams a story is creating as well.)
The best part of this book is "Leaf by Niggle." Tolkien wrote several short stories and I love them all, but this is a very special short story. In my opinion, Tolkien was writing about himself during a particularly clear moment of spiritual discernment.
I don't want to give away the plot but suffice it to say that the main character, Niggle, is working on a huge painting of an immense tree, filled with detail that grows in detail the more he paints. He would love to finish the painting but he has a neighbor who interrupts him repeatedly with some very real if down-to-earth needs.
And that's just the premise. The story just gets better and better, and I hope that it is all true. "True", not "real".
Please buy a used copy while you can, and treasure it.
Sherry Thompson (no matter who Amazon thinks I am)
Unique to the HarperCollins (British) "Tree by Leaf" edition noted here is the inclusion of the 148-line poem "Mythopoeia" which, according to Christopher Tolkien's preface, Tolkien composed in response to C. S. Lewis' having "described myth and fairy-story as 'lies'." Also included is "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth," an ending Tolkien supplied to an Old English tale, "The Battle of Maldon." Those drawn to these works may find Paul Kocher's chapter, "Seven Leaves," from his "Master of Middle Earth," of particular interest. Furthermore, Tom Shippey's introduction to "Tales from the Perilous Realm" links themes from "On Fairy Tales" and "Leaf by Niggle" to such Tolkien translations as "Sir Orfeo," not included in the collections cited above.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an odd collection of short pieces by Tolkien, none of them long enough to stand alone. They have little in common except their authorship. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Ellyn Jones
Especially the short story "Leaf by Niggle" is great! I read it twenty years ago, and it was as good at my rereading of it.
Beautifully written, with a message.
Great for the Tolkien enthusiast. When you already have the hobbit, several collectors sets of TLOTR, and all the histories of middle earth and the silmarilion, This is a good... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is an excellent little volume of Tolkien's work, collecting together some of his less known work. Read morePublished on June 26, 2014 by Mark Dowers
This little book contains the essay "On Fairy Stories" which was a dissertation Tolkien delivered in the 1920s. Read morePublished on March 21, 2014 by E. Munoz