TREE AND LEAF, SMITH OF WOOTTON MAJOR, THE HOMECOMING OF BEORHTNOTH by JRR TOLKIEN.
BACK COVER BLURB: This book brings together Tolkien's essay, On Fairy-Stories, his early short story, Leaf by Niggle, a folk tale, Smith Of Wootton Major, and his dramatic poem The Homecoming Of Beorthnoth Beorthelm's Son.
SOURCE: Off our shelves, this book belongs to Mr T.
MY THOUGHTS: A book with four elements to it. Beginning with an essay on fairy stories, before moving onto Tree and Leaf, then, Smith of Wootton Major and, finally, The Homecoming Of Beorthnoth.
I have to say I had difficulty in rating this book as a whole as for me, as I'm sure it will be for many others, there were aspects that I enjoyed more than others.
Perhaps more for those wishing to study the works of Tolkien, for those wishing to understand his views on the use of imagination in literature - after all in his Introductory Note he advises whilst 'they ('On Fairy-Stories' and 'Tree and Leaf') may still be found interesting, especially by those to whom The Lord of the Rings has given pleasure'. For myself personally whilst, yes, not altogether uninteresting, ultimately I found the essay On Fairy-Stories too dry.
Written in the same period (1938/9) and much more to my liking is the short story, Tree and Leaf. Also known as Leaf by Niggle - Niggle being an artist who, living in a society that holds art in scant regard, begins a painting of a huge tree starting with one single leaf - I believe this might be an allegory of Tolkien's life ... unless of course I'm reading into something that isn't really there which is quite possible given that I think this is one of those stories that can be read on so many different levels.
A magical little read despite its lack of what I think of as traditional fairy tale rhetoric. I was surprised to discover that Smith of Wootton Major was by far my favourite aspect of the book.
Charming and yet really quite dark and profound. A fable that like Tree and Leaf I feel can be read on more than one level. I adored the fairies of Faery. Relished the 'Feast of Good Children', a festival that, only held every twenty four years, sees the baking of the 'Great Cake'.
What I can only describe as a poem come short play written as a dialogue between two characters. Feeling as I do that verse is better read to you rather than by you, it's hardly surprising that The Homecoming Of Beorhtnoth was my least favourite aspect of the book.
Read for the following challenges:
- 'What's In A Name? 2016': 'A Book With The Word Tree In The Title' category
- '2016 Reading Challenge': 'A Book Published Before You Were Born' category. Whilst this edition was published in 1975, Tree and Leaf was first published in 1964 making this perfect for this category of the challenge.