‘Tree and Leaf’ by J.R.R. Tolkien

13590826This is a precious (no pun intended) little book. When Tolkien published it in 1964, it contained only two works: the essay ‘On Fairy-Stories’ and the short story ‘Leaf by Niggle’. The former can make for very dense reading at times and the fact that it was originally a lecture does not really help much in terms of readability. In it Tolkien exposes his set of unique beliefs about the nature, origin and use of fairy stories. The later is an insight into Tolkien’s mind and they way he saw his own creative process. Profoundly influenced by his religious beliefs, it is one of the most poignant short stories I have ever read.

The edition I have at home includes the ‘Mythopoeia,’ a poem addressed to C.S. Lewis, who once commented that myths were nothing but lies; and an extremely original piece titled ‘The Homecoming of Beorthnoth Beorthehelm’s Son’, which basically consists of a dramatic poem involving the Battle of Maldon sandwiched in an essay on Old English poetry.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (2001) Leaf and Tree. London: HarperCollins.

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