The author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, etc. and for twenty years professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, reprints in this volume an essay on fairy tales, and a short story, both written in 1938-1939. The essay, originally composed as an Andrew Lang lecture, often mentions Lang's twelve vari-colored books of collected fairy tales as well as a mass of other lore. But while it is almost too steeped in its subject, it tends to be somewhat disorganized and digressive and to define ""fairy stories"" more by what they are not than to give a clear picture of what they are. Certainly many of the conclusions are open to debate. But ""fairy stories"" are by nature slippery ground if one does not (as Tolkien does not) attack them on Freudian, historical or scientific terms. Still there is much that is provocative, learned and splendidly definitive in this essay. The short story, Leaf by Niggle, is a pleasant little Christian morality tale but rather a let-down after all the talk about awesome, ancient , supernatural ""elvish"" powers.... All in all, for his special following.