Epic Pooh

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"Epic Pooh" is a 1978 essay by the British science fiction writer Michael Moorcock, which reviews the field of epic fantasy, with a particular focus on epic fantasy written for children. In it Moorcock critiques J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings for its politically conservative assumptions and its escapism.

Originally written for the British Science Fiction Association, "Epic Pooh" was revised for inclusion in Moorcock's 1989 book Wizardry and Wild Romance.


Moorcock criticises a group of celebrated writers of epic fantasy for children, including Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Richard Adams. His criticism is based on two principal grounds: what he sees as the poverty of their writing style, and a political criticism. Moorcock accuses these authors of espousing a form of "corrupted Romance", which he identifies with Anglican Toryism. The defining traits of this attitude are an anti-technological, anti-urban stance which Moorcock sees as ultimately misanthropic, that glorifies a vanishing or vanished rural idyll, and is rooted in middle-class or bourgeois attitudes towards progress and political change.

The title arises from Moorcock's argument that the writing of Tolkien, Lewis, Adams and others has a similar purpose to the Winnie-the-Pooh writings of A. A. Milne, another author of whom he disapproves: it is fiction intended to comfort rather than challenge.

Writers whom Moorcock cites approvingly, in contrast to his treatment of Tolkien, Lewis and Adams, include Terry Pratchett, Ursula K. Le Guin and Alan Garner.


A 2008 revision to the piece adds mention of authors Pratchett and J. K. Rowling and drops those whose names would be less familiar today. In an author's note, Moorcock also identifies Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials as deserving credit.

As an example of the revision, from the original "... are successful. It is the tone of Warwick Deeping's Sorrell and Son, of John Steinbeck at his worst, or, in a more sophisticated form..."[1] and from the revised version "... are successful. It is the tone of many forgotten British and American bestsellers, well-remembered children's books, like The Wind in the Willows, you often hear it in regional fiction addressed to a local audience, or, in a more sophisticated form..."[2]


  1. ^ Moorcock, Michael (1987). "5. "Epic Pooh"". Wizardry and Wild Romance: A study of epic fantasy. Victor Gollancz. p. 181. ISBN 0-575-04324-5.
  2. ^ Michael Moorcock. "RevolutionSF – Epic Pooh". RevolutionSF. Archived from the original on 24 March 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2010.

External links[edit]

  • Epic Pooh, Revised version. Michael Moorcock, (British Fantasy Society, 1978)