Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The New Arrival (LEAF BY NIGGLE)

So, Monday's mail brought not just the latest issue of VII* but the newest Tolkien book: the first stand-alone publication of his 1942-43 parable LEAF BY NIGGLE. I gather this was released in association with (or at least contemporaneously with) the one-man show that's currently touring in England -- and, I hope, will make it over here in good time.

Most who enjoy Tolkien will have read this already, thorough collections such as TREE AND LEAF (which paired it with OFS), THE TOLKIEN READER (which added FGH, ATB, OFS, and HBB to make the classic collection**), both during Tolkien's lifetime. Postumously THE TOLKIEN READER's place was taken by TALES FROM THE PERILOUS REALM  (which added SWM; a later re-issue added ROVERANDOM as well).  It's nice to see it get to stand on its own for once.

As for the book itself, it's a handsome little volume, only about sixty-four pages (including backmatter) with a tree and a bicycle on the cover and an Afterword by Tom Shippey. Shippey's interpretation of Tolkien's tale is purely allegorical and strictly autobiographical.

All in all, a nice little book that I'm happy to have. If it weren't already spoke for on the Tolkien shelf I'd put it alongside Giono's THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES and Merwin's UNCHOPPING A TREE.

--John R.

*haven't had time to read this yet, but v. much looking forward to their publication here, for the first time ever, of PUDAITA PIE, the Lewis brothers' collection of sayings of their father that made him look bad, and to a review-essay of four biographies wh is full of well-deserved praise for Raymond Edwards' new Tolkien biography (the reviewer also liked the Zaleskis' book for its treatment of Wms and inclusion of Barfield).

 **LotR, H, and THE TOLKIEN READER made up the three books that most people in the sixties and first half of the seventies who liked Tolkien read)


Magister said...

Sidetrack: Lord Dunsany considered Giono "the greatest novelist in Europe" (in his preface to Time's Travelers by Stanton Coblentz) and devoted an entire article ("A Great Artist") to him.

Magister said...

Speaking of Giono (fun side track): Giono was one of Lord Dunsany's favourite writers; he considered him the greatest contemporary European novelist.