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Leaf by Niggle

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  3,556 ratings  ·  280 reviews
Leaf by Niggle is a short story about a painter whom is working on a picture leaf by leaf. Niggle, the painter, is a kind hearted soul and goes out of his way to help his friends and neighbours but eventually finds that this prevents him from completing his masterpiece. He has a hard decision to make; when engrossed in his work, his neighbour asks him to fix his roof using ...more
ebook, 22 pages
Published 2003 by Trinity Forum (first published January 1945)
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Madelaine Bell Niggle seems like a very appropriate word for Niggle, "to do something in a fiddling or ineffectual way."…moreNiggle seems like a very appropriate word for Niggle, "to do something in a fiddling or ineffectual way." (less)

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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  3,556 ratings  ·  280 reviews


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Liz

Another enchanting, captivating and instructive story by Tolkien.
Short, very simple and yet filled with wonders and a hidden complexity. It was like a very beautiful fairy-tale written for children who haven't lost the ability to see the world with all its miracles yet. The story of Niggle was like a painting itself.
I loved it from the first word and until the last one.

Niggle is an artist who paints just for himself. He spends a lot of time on his huge canvas of a tree with a forest and
...more
Dannii Elle
Leaf by Niggle is both a charming short tale and a cunning little parable. Protagonist Niggle is an artist struggling to create. The problem isn't his short-sighted vision of his grand and overwhelming project or the impending journey he must make and has yet to prepare for, it is the incessant interruptions from his only neighbour and the menial tasks he must enact for him.

This story has a twist I won't divulge here, but just know that little Niggle had me feeling so called out by the end of it
...more
Cindy Rollins
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, reread, 2019
While purchasing Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas, I thought I would add Leaf by Niggle to the cart. I know I have read the physical book before but it might have been 30 years ago. This little allegory is more powerful than any of the current crop of self-help/business books. It examines the meaning of life in the midst of the toils, struggles and disappointments of everyday life and it examines the life we think we are making with the life we really are making AND it even examines the ...more
Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy Edwards
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Niggle was a painter. Not a very successful one, partly because he had many other things to do. Most of these things he thought were a nuisance; but he did them fairly well, when he could not get out of them: which (in his opinion) was far too often..."

Tolkien's story, which was something of an allegory of his own life as he labored to write The Lord of the Rings, turns out to be an allegory for all of us, particularly those who follow Christ and desire to live a life for His Kingdom.

Central to
...more
Cori
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: My beautiful artists struggling against time
My heart.

So I'm a competitive person by nature, and I've had it in my head to get ALL the Audible badges if it kills me. ALL THE BADGES. And then maybe the levels...but we'll see. It's ambitious, Cotton. We'll see if it pays off. So in an effort to get the "7 Day Stretch" Badge, I was calculating. I was cunning. I finished To Kill a Kingdom (review to come) and thought, hmmmm... it's a Monday. I can finish another one this week! I looked through my Wishlist for something moderately short, and I
...more
Jeremiah Lorrig
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
So simple and deep. Both at the same time. Makes you think.
Johanna C.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
A wonderful little tale by Tolkien that everyone should read. Although those who really do need to read it will not read it. A great way to learn about selflessness, responsibility, art, friendship, meaning, power, and so much more. And so skillfully done. The world has a lot to learn from Tolkien if they'd read between the lines.
Tara
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Part autobiographical, part allegory, Leaf by Niggle has a lot to unravel for a short story. Whether or not you consider yourself a resident of Middle-earth, it's worth checking out some of Tolkien's lesser known works as well.
Silver
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, fantasy
A strange but beautiful short-story. To me it seems to convey the importance of art, and especially of artists. No matter how small their skill, it should be allowed to grow, develop and not be repressed or dismissed. An artist's work cannot flourish on it own, it also needs support and appreciation and sometimes it becomes a collective venture.

My favourite passage is the first description of what would eventually become the Leaf painting:

It had begun with a leaf caught in the wind, and it
...more
Afreen Khalid
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This short story is an allegory for Tolkien's own battles with perfectionism, procrastination and the distractions that kept him from publishing any of the Middle-Earth novels for years.

"At any rate, poor Niggle got no pleasure out of life, not what he had been used to call pleasure. He was certainly not amused. But it could not be denied that he began to have a feeling of-well, satisfaction: bread rather than jam. He could take up a task the moment one bell rang, and lay it aside promptly the
...more
epg
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the most wonderful, thought provoking tale. It is beautiful, human, inspirational, warm, melancholic, sad, soul-searching, philosophical, dreamy, truth seeking..., but told in such successful simplicity. Though all ages would enjoy this, I think it has an enormous amount to say to adults. So far this is the best of Tolkien's 'other' stories (ie not LOR) that I have read.

I thoroughly recommend the superb Harper Collins recording, read by Derek Jacobi (on the CD with “Smith of Wooton Major
...more
Sera
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The only bad thing about this story is that it is too short.
Laurel Hicks
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This story makes me happy. Niggle is, I'm guessing, Tolkien.
Roxana Truţa
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first encounter with Tolkien. Somehow, I haven't yet plucked up the courage to start reading his mammoth series - this is partly George R.R. Martin's fault, for being just TOO juicy by comparison.
Anyway, this short story isn't fantasy, but a beautiful metaphor or allegory, if you will. It's about the condition of the artist and it will appeal to anyone who's ever tried doing something creative at least once in their lives. Loved all the hidden meanings, the half-spoken truths, the
...more
Melissa
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inklings, favorites
I think because I had prefaced reading this book with Tolkien's essays on Beowulf as well as C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, this short story hit me with peculiar force. I came close to sobbing. A sparkling (perhaps autobiographical) metaphor for the Christian Artist, it is perhaps my new very favorite short story ever. I found myself wanting to adapt it into a play, but I'm not sure it would be possible... I imbibed the audiobook edition with Derek Jacobi who seems born to read Tolkien aloud. ...more
Mary Catelli
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A short work by the master -- written in a troubled time in his life -- on art and duty and their meaning in life and afterlife.
Manny
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I wasn't as big a lover of this story as everyone else. The story seemed overly didactic. The characters, which were two dimensional, kind of reminded me of those in a Samuel Beckett play where each had some sort of allegorical significance but where you couldn't exactly pin down what the significance was. It seemed as if the story drifted from one event to another, and I couldn't tell if Niggle dreamed his journey or it really happened.

Certainly the themes are important: attempts at artistry,
...more
Feri
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book about Tolkien himself in such a poetic way. Tolkien had it right when said:

"...that story was the only thing I have ever done which cost me absolutely no pains at all. Usually I compose only with great difficulty and endless rewriting. I woke up one day (more the 2 years ago) with that odd thing virtually complete in my head. It took only a few hours to get down, and then copy out."

"I should say that, in addition to my tree-love (it was originally called The Tree), it arose from
...more
Kenny Williams
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great Catholic allegory that describes the challenges of the restless artist having to fulfill his earthy roles. The stories we want to tell may not be fulfilled in purgatory, but there are ways for Protestants to still enjoy and apply this story. An insightful story into the mind of the man who created the entire world of Middle-Earth.
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
This is a short tale about a painter who is working on a picture leaf by leaf, his speciality. He becomes annoyed at the constant distractions of his neighbours and friends appealing to his good nature.

A wonderful little story which sees Niggle achieve his ultimate goal and is a pleasure to read.
Wendi Wanders
So much wisdom and insight packed into this sweet, short story.
Niggle is a painter, mostly of leaves, but other things, too. Only life is so full of interruptions he can't get down to work at his real task of painting. Before he can complete his life's work, he is called away on the long journey he has always known is coming, but he is unprepared. However unprepared, the carriage has been called for and he must go on his journey, leaving his work unfinished.

But what are the interruptions and
...more
Annie Monson
This is a short story about a lot of things, but it has me thinking about the mustard seed: “[The Kingdom of God] is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
Timothy Lumsdaine
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This story was fantastic. I was particularly movied by the beautiful ending. Honestly finishing this book was the best part of my day.
Edoardo Albert
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read this little story by JRR Tolkien many years ago and remember being strangely moved by it, but not much more. So when I heard that a theatre production of the story by the Puppet State Theatre Company was touring with it, we all went along to see it. As Richard Medrington, the performer and narrator of the performance, tells us at the beginning, the production company's name is a bit of a misnomer for this production: there's no puppets and it's not really a theatre show, there being ...more
Fred
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
This book surfaces in my mind a lot this year.
Tolkien, you hypocrite, you got to write your story.
Interrupted inspiration is torture. Unless you've dedicated an unreasonable amount of your life to creating something you can't understand.

---------------

Update one year later: This story just seems like a cruel joke right now.

--------------

It makes sense Tolkien would be the one to write this.
Getting torn away from what you're creating is always pretty painful. Lord of the Rings is more elaborate
...more
Ash
It is a very short story (probably the shortest one I have read so far) about a painter called Niggle. This story was meant to be a story with a moral of some sort I guess. After reading few reviews, I realized Tolkien was probably talking about death in this story. But I did not enjoy reading it much. I am starting to think that his short stories are not good enough for me. Maybe I had way too many expectations going into them considering how amazing his other books are.
Laura
Dec 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Wanda
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
You may read online here.

Opening lines:
There was once a little man called Niggle, who had a long journey to make. He did not want to go, indeed the whole idea was distasteful to him; but he could not get out of it. He knew he would have to start some time, but he did not hurry with his preparations.
John Elliott
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reminds me of reading George McDonald’s fairy tales. Requires some work, but the work is worth it in the end. Perhaps more importantly, I will probably look back on this little book as the one that finally convinced me to read “Lord of the Rings”.
Marina Balinska
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Leaf by Niggle is wonderful read - sweet, delightful, and deep.
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J.R.R. Tolkien: Theatrical Adaptation of "Leaf by Niggle" 1 16 Jul 10, 2016 08:03AM  

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John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, WWI veteran (a First Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, British Army), philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the high fantasy classic works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings .

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford from 1925 to 1945, and Merton Professor of English
...more
“Things might have been different, but they could not have been better.” 21 likes
“He was going to learn about sheep, and the high pasturages, and look at a wider sky, and walk ever further and further towards the Mountains, always uphill. Beyond that I cannot guess what became of him. Even little Niggle in his old home could glimpse the Mountains far away, and they got into the borders of his picture; but what they are really like, and what lies beyond them, only those can say who have climbed them.” 2 likes
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