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Leaf by Niggle

Narrated by: Derek Jacobi
Length: 49 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (46 ratings)

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Summary

Tolkien's acclaimed modern classic 'fairie' tale, read by Derek Jacobi.

'Leaf by Niggle' recounts the strange adventures of the painter Niggle, who sets out to paint the perfect tree. But he senses that he will be snatched away from his work long before it is finished - if indeed it could ever be finished in this world. For it is in another and brighter place that Niggle finds his tree is finished and learns that it is indeed a real tree, a true part of creation.

Created in the early 1940s, at the same time as The Lord of the Rings was taking shape, 'Leaf by Niggle' is a passionate adult fairy tale about a man who has 'a long journey to make', thought to be an allegory of Tolkien's own life.

©2016 J. R. R. Tolkien (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"As with all good short stories, this one expands in the imagination. Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, indeed." ( The Times)
"Brings a wistful charm to complex issues of truth, beauty, duty and creative aspiration." ( The Herald)
"A haunting and successful demonstration of the qualities of faerie." ( New York Times)

What members say

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Strange and unsatisfying

This is an odd story. Derek Jacobi, of course, performed it very well. However, I would rather watch In The Night Garden, which has better stories and more likeable characters.
I enjoy The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and Smith of Wootton Major, but this peculiar offering, unfortunately, isn't Tolkien's best.

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    3 out of 5 stars

A flight of fancy

It's Tolkien but not as we know him more of a whimsy than a gripper

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  • M. J. Palmer
  • 16-05-17

My Favourite Tolkien

I have read LOTR almost constantly for the past ten years- it fascinates and inspites me endlessly. But this little flibbet of a jibbet book is the one I would take to the ends of the Earth. It is buoyant and innocent as a nursery room tale, yet profoundly revealing of Tolkien himself in a way LOTR could never be. A treasure that I fear few will recognize...and a lively, characterful reading by Mr. Jacobi.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • David S. Mathew
  • 12-05-17

Gazing through the Leaves

This is of Tolkien's non-Middle Earth stories, but it is a very memorable tale nonetheless. This is story tells of Niggle, a painter living in a dystopian dictatorship that places little to no value on art. I won't spoil anything, but this really is a wonderful story. Very highly recommended!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Becke
  • 17-02-17

Sublime

"Leaf by Niggle" is one of my favorite of Tolkien's short stories. It is a glimpse at what gives life meaning, the idea of purgatory and the High Places that come afterward. For one to be a well-rounded person, ready for their journey, hard work and the arts must go together. A Leaf by Niggle is quite a thing to see...

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan C.
  • 13-04-18

A Thought Provoking Short Story

Would you listen to Leaf by Niggle again? Why?

Yes, I've already listened to this 5 or 6 times. It's a wonderful and encouraging story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Leaf by Niggle?

I found to entire of the story to be memorable and very relatable. But when Niggle is able to grow his tree—the tree he had been trying to paint for years was probably my most favorite moment.

What does Derek Jacobi bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I love his delivery it's a very good performance. I would never have been able to read the book the number of times I have now if it wasn't for this audiobook. Being able to listen While I drive is a blessing.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I think the phrase that summarizes this the best is a quote from the story: "Things might have been different, but they could not have been better."

Any additional comments?

I really can't recommend this book enough! It's fantastic! If you like Tolkien you'll love this. But if you don't like Tolkien you should still give this a shot. It's not as dense and detailed as The Lord Of The Rings, but its message is so valuable!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • k
  • 27-11-16

An unusual Tolkien tale

Read it long ago just because it was Tolkien. Wasn't much interested as a kid, not a hobbit in sight. Reread it occasionally and just now audioed it because it kept crossing my mind and has slowly become one of my favorite short stories. Jacobi is the perfect person to do the reading. Can't say that I love the music used for intro or end but whatever.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul D. Benedict
  • 26-08-17

Unfortunate treatment of excellent source material

It would appear the producer (and to a lesser extent, the narrator) had no understanding of the significance or themes of this excellent short story. The beginning and end are scored with a ridiculously cheesy soundtrack which robs the ending of its power.

I would recommend waiting to experience this story until you have time to read it for yourself.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Helen S.
  • 15-10-19

delightful

loved this children like story. I highly recommend it for its whimsy and joy.

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  • T. Bonnette
  • 09-10-19

Lovely!

Sir Derek Jacobi was as wonderful as ever. Tolkien amazes me on a regular basis. I think the majority of us are Niggles. Two sincere thumbs up!

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  • Vanessa Almeida
  • 07-09-19

Sweet and profound!

A great work by JRR TOLKIEN besides his length. Every time you read you can see something new and important.

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  • Carol B.
  • 30-08-19

Early JRR Tolkien

We have been a big fan of the Lord of the rings trilogy. This was interesting and fun to experience some of Tolkien’s earlier writings.