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Leaf by Niggle

Narrated by: Derek Jacobi
Length: 49 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)
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Publisher's 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

Average Customer Ratings

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Revommended for all ages.

A lighthearted and enjoyable read that the whole family will enjoy. Excellent performance by Derek Jacobi.

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Leaf by Niggle

Well I did love it .Actually quite moving and thought provoking.The narrator was excellent and really made the story come alive .Thankyou .

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  • M. J. Palmer
  • 16-05-2017

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • David S. Mathew
  • 12-05-2017

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!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Becke
  • 17-02-2017

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...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan C.
  • 13-04-2018

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul D. Benedict
  • 26-08-2017

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • k
  • 27-11-2016

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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  • Ara Tanajian
  • 15-01-2019

Charming and beautiful story

I was very surprised and delighted by this story I bought for my son. Tolkien is a truly great story teller.

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  • E.F.B.
  • 31-12-2018

Interesting...

I listened to Leaf by Niggle on audio in one sitting, but this was only because of how short it was, not because I couldn't put it down. Its lilting narration style that Tolkien seems to have used with many of his shorter stories was charming enough, however I was confused about the point of it all and, at times, was unsure of what, exactly, was even happening. Certain elements reminded me vaguely of themes in many of Tolkien’s other works, such as the concept of the Undying Lands (whether that be the mythical land of faerie/Valinor or heaven/paradise depends on the story) which seems to be a theme that was important to Tolkien and I’m sure was influenced by his Catholic beliefs.

Having gone and read the Wikipedia article about Leaf by Niggle, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaf_by_Niggle I may understand things a little better now. Still, all I can really say about this little story is pretty much repeating the thought I had once the story ended, which was: “Well… That was interesting.” I’m glad to have read it so that I know what it’s about, and it was interesting on an intellectual level, but now that I’ve read it, I feel no desire to ever read it again. *shrug* I’m wavering between a 2 and 3 star rating, so… Why don’t we call it 2.5 (rounded up to 3 until such time as we're able to do half stars) and leave it at that.

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  • John Byson
  • 09-10-2018

Few books touch the soul like this

Must be heard. A moving listen that will linger long after it’s finished. Great narration too.

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  • lifelong learner
  • 24-09-2018

what a lovely find!

I've heard this story referenced by others for some years, but never read it myself. It's a lovely allegory on several different levels, well worth taking in and considering our own lives-- what we ingest in, what we consider important, and what we leave behind.

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  • Neil
  • 05-11-2018

A flight of fancy

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