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Literature / Leaf by Niggle

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"Leaf by Niggle" is a short story by J. R. R. Tolkien. The artist main character is in some ways an allegory of Tolkien himself, and of any form of artistry.

"Leaf by Niggle" provides example of:

  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Niggle is a bit casual in preparing for his demise, so he is assigned to a sort of purgatory. After he learns to be better organized, the entities in charge send him on further.
  • Description Porn: He carefully describes how Niggle drew leaves better than trees, and wants to do an entire trees all of his leaves.
  • Extremely Lengthy Creation: In-Universe. Niggle starts to paint a forest, and after many long years, dies. All that remains of his magnum opus is a painting of a leaf.
  • Title Drop: After most of Niggle's magnum opus is destroyed, a surviving bit is framed and displayed in a local museum, with the title "Leaf, by Niggle". It is eventually lost.