I’m not much of a Tolkien fan – not since I was about twelve or fourteen anyway (which, it strikes me, is about the right age to read and enjoy his stuff). […] I only wonder why on earth anyone (adult) would want to read something like that. (Richard Morgan, The Real Fantastic Stuff)
Fantasy is not The Lord of the Rings alone—to say so is foolish—but the tendency of authors to downplay Tolkien or other fantasy writers from the mid-twentieth century seems rampant today in the world of “gritty” fantasy, or even young adult fantasy with Philip Pullman’s dismissal of Tolkien as trivial, childish, and ultimately unworthy of critical examination. One of the early examples is Michael Moorcock’s “Epic Pooh”, which seems to be a starting point for much dismissal. Both Morgan’s article and Moorock’s essay have generated considerable heated debate, the latter for over twenty years, and I don’t have much to add.
Instead, I’d like to consider what, exactly, makes fantasy “adult.”