Episode 34
January 18, 2022

I Ain’t No Big City Philologist!

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Ned’s choice of topic: Tree and Leaf. Published in 1964 in the UK and the following year in the US, Tree and Leaf was Tolkien’s first major post-Lord of the Rings publication but was itself a republishing of two earlier non-Middle-earth pieces: “On Fairy-Stories,” an essay on the subject revised from a 1939 lecture and 1947 anthology, and “Leaf by Niggle,” a short, explicitly religious story for a Catholic publication in

  1. Anthologized and separately published since, they’re at once totally separate but sometimes strangely complementary pieces that serve to illuminate Tolkien’s interests beyond Middle-earth itself, while at the same time often casting reflections back on it or suggesting how dominant his legendarium was to his creative life and beyond. What makes “On Fairy-Stories” key as a way to consider Tolkien’s overall creative aesthetic, even as it contains some of his most dense, allusive prose? How does his framing of fairy-stories as not simply being for children itself lead to other interesting conclusions about not only children but other cultures? What makes “Leaf By Niggle” the closest Tolkien ever got to C.S. Lewis’s fictional approach, but where also does it differ? And how telling is it that once again Tolkien features an idealized friendship – perhaps more – between men in his fiction?
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Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. (Kinda makes Ned think of the cover of Led Zeppelin IV but not really.)

Andy Serkis’s readings of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are quite good indeed.

The Daily Mail photo story – those are some lovely shots and the story’s cool too.

The Tolkien Society photo announcementand the fallout.

Rosamund Pike has her way with a pineapple.

Absolutely check out Costa Botes’s behind the scenes documentaries about Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Here’s Botes’s own memories about it. As for the films, as noted they’re on the original Blu-ray set and elsewhere but then again it’s weird where they might all turn up.

Tree and Leaf, the most current version of same. As noted, the two original pieces are also now available separately with more material: On Fairy-Stories and Leaf By Niggle.

Andrew Lang’s impact on the general field of fairy tales and more remains pretty big. (The Andrew Lang Memorial Lectures continue to the present day.)

Max Müller’s had his own general scholarly impact too.

Our Smith of Wootton Major episode.

The ancient Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers.

We didn’t mention it in our discussion but Tolkien’s referencing of the sophistication of supposedly ‘primitive’ people has a resonance with the character of Ghân-buri-Ghân – check out our episode on him.

If you want more on Carl Jung and how Joseph Campbell built off him, read on.

The Juniper Tree, as told by the Grimms.

M. R. James – so great. A Thin Ghost presents all the stories plus info on the many adaptations over time, including Mark Gatiss’s recent adaptations for the BBC.

R. L. Stine – also so great. The Snowman is there for the reading.

Hayao Miyazaki – great great GREAT again. A recent NYT profile, and yes watch Ponyo. And everything else.

The Dublin Review, the publication where “Leaf By Niggle” first appeared.

So you’re wondering about Purgatory in a Catholic context

CCD aka Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

Phantom Thread! Great film. Very not-Tolkien.

The Great Divorce, That Hideous Strength, Till We Have Faces, there’s plenty of C. S. Lewis out there.

Niggle and Parish, a fraught friendship but with more to it there. Here’s our episode on friendship.

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