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Tree and Leaf: Including MYTHOPOEIA [Paperback]

J. R. R. Tolkien
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Mar 2009

Repackaged to feature Tolkien’s own painting of the Tree of Amalion, this collection includes his famous essay, ‘On Fairy-stories’ and the story that exemplifies this, ‘Leaf by Niggle’, together with the poem ‘Mythopoeia’ and the verse drama, ‘The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth’, which tells of the events following the disastrous Battle of Maldon.

Fairy-stories are not just for children, as anyone who has read Tolkien will know. In his essay On Fairy-Stories, Tolkien discusses the nature of fairy-tales and fantasy and rescues the genre from those who would relegate it to juvenilia. The haunting short story, Leaf by Niggle, recounts the story of the artist, Niggle, who has ‘a long journey to make’ and is seen as an allegory of Tolkien’s life.

The poem Mythopoeia relates an argument between two unforgettable characters as they discuss the making of myths. Lastly, and published for the very first time, we are treated to the translation of Tolkien’s account of the Battle of Maldon, known as The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth.

Tree and Leaf is an eclectic, amusing, provocative and entertaining collection of works which reveals the diversity of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination, the depth of his knowledge of English history, and the breadth of his talent as a creator of fantastic fiction.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (5 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007105045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007105045
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 214,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.R.R. Tolkien was born on 3rd January 1892. After serving in the First World War, he became best known for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, selling 150 million copies in more than 40 languages worldwide. Awarded the CBE and an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Oxford University, he died in 1973 at the age of 81.

Product Description


‘A haunting and successful demonstration of the qualities of faerie’
New York Times

‘The book must be read… it goes far to explain the nature of his art and justify his success’
The Cambridge Review

‘While springing from deep-rooted convictions, his art has imaginative magic of a very rare quality’
Birmingham Post

About the Author

J R R Tolkien (1892-1973) was a distinguished academic, though he is best known for writing The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, plus other stories and essays. His books have been translated into over 40 languages and have sold many millions of copies world wide.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
88 of 93 people found the following review helpful
The book was originally a publishing concoction consisting of only two items, short story 'Leaf by Niggle' and essay 'On Fairy-Stories'; both have since become readily available in other editions. But even if you already have the texts in your collection, know that 'Tree and Leaf' has sprouted new branches since its first publication in 1964, as is only fitting. First, in 1988, Tolkien's poetic dialogue 'Mythopoeia' was added; this new 2001 edition also includes 'The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth' - the only sequel to another author's work by JRRT that I know of (albeit one nameless, and dead for a milennium). The four works now form a strong whole: the essay lays out the groundwork for virtually all of Tolkien's fiction and sheds much light on the value system underlining his creative choices. This is literary theory of a sort that is almost extinct in university courses nowadays - and feels like a breath of fresh inspiration after so many postmodern dead ends, frankly. 'Mythopoeia' brings this argument with modernity out in a style reminiscent of classical dialectics (in verse and quite amusing to boot); but then 'Leaf by Niggle' explodes in a flash of what the book has previously only talked about: it is the real thing, one of Tolkien's most poignant works, and the sheer concentration of emotion in it rivals his best mythological stories. 'Beorhtnoth' now gives the end of the book a sombre tone, an elegy of times and heroes gone and on the way to be forgotten - written in a prime example of Old English verse.
Maybe not meant to be experienced in this order, the four items certainly form a strong whole, one essential to the understanding of the author - more so than anything you might see in cinema these days...
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book that I will remember always. 18 Dec 1998
By A Customer
I bought this in my "Must read everything by Tolkien" phase having just read Lord of the Rings. It is essentially an essay on Fairy Tales, but it has some wonderful theories and concepts. When I re-read the book years later, it hit me so hard I'll never be the same, as it dawned on me just what amazing things Tolkien was saying. The ideas from this have doubled my enjoyment of every book I have read since.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The beauty of words, and of adventure 26 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although the other texts included in "Tree and leaf" (Mythopoeia, Leaf by Niggle and the Homecoming of...) are interesting and valuable, the reason to purchase this slim volume lies in the essay "On fairy-stories": in this terse piece of writing, originally meant for a lecture, Tolkien defends the right of writers to create beautiful stories with little or no apparent connection to "The real world", and the right of readers to find consolation in the healing power of beauty. This way he doesn't only justify the work of his entire life, the creation of Middle Earth and the stories of men, hobbits and magical rings, but he claims its connection to ancient mythology and especially to the world of heroes such as Beowulf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Lucinda
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
`Tree and Leaf' (2001 edition) also contains Mythopoeia, the Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, on fairy stories and Leaf by Niggle. *Note: some of which you can find in the book titled "Tales from the Perilous Realm" *In Tolkien's world fairy stories are not just for children and the magic of the fantasy genre is exquisitely captured, in such a way as to delight and dazzle many a reader (who may have cause to call it juvenile). This beautifully illustrated, elegant volume gives fantasy `the inner consistence of reality'. This edition also contains a preface by Christopher Tolkien (regarding the poem Mythopoeia) and additional information on other books by JRR Tolkien, including the extensive history of Middle Earth.

Leaf by Niggle ~ recounts the story of the artist, Niggle, who has `a long journey to make' and is seen interestingly as an allegory of Tolkien's life. Written concurrently as `the Lord of the Rings' was taking shape, it shows Tolkien's mastery and understanding of the art of sub-creation.

Mythopoeia ~ the author Philomythus (lover of myth), confounds the opinion of misomythus (hater of myth).

The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth ~ Professor Tolkien's dramatic poem which takes up the story following the disastrous battle of Maldon in 991, where the English Commander Beorhtnoth was killed.

This indisputably exceptional book is a must-read for all devoted Tolkien fans and ardent admirers of this intriguing Professor's life, for it goes as far as to explain the nature of his art and to justify his success. Tolkien's love for the common fairytale is expressed through his fantasy works, and it is fascinating to read in this book how they have inspired his work to such an extent.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse of beauty 21 Nov 2008
I'd totally recommend getting this if only for the short story "leaf by Niggle". Which in spite of Tolkien's professed "cordial dislike of allegory" is profoundly allegorical. I keep reading this every few months as a reminder of the narrative and purpose of life. Tolkien has allowed some of us to glimpse a little of the meta narrative of his work, and how he saw himself in the world. Really worth reading.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not exclusively Tolkienian 17 Feb 2008
By R.J.W89
I get frustrated when reviewers of Tolkien's works (fiction or other) tend to wrap his legendarium complete with his theory in a box-like container, only applicable to Tolkien. The collection of pieces in 'Tree and Leaf' are a testament to its non exclusiveness. The idea of a 'sub-creation' can be applied to many artists, indeed, Tolkien was subscribing to the view BECAUSE he was an artist, and not as a sort of extended appendix to his own works. Of course his essays do help us to understand the scope of Middle Earth, but only in so much as it tells us it's a sub-creation- a fragmented vision of the true creation (God's).
That aside, this will continue to be a treasured book of mine, and I will bear it in mind whenever I come to any piece of art.
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