Recently, fantasy has enjoyed an upswing in popularity, if not in acceptance in literary circles.
The primary reason for this popularity is the unexpected critical and popular success of The Lord of the Rings series of films, based upon the novels by J. R. R. Tolkien. The works of Tolkien once were entirely the province of the "geeks" and other stereotypical fantasy fans, but the immense popularity of the films has made it socially acceptable to delve into fantasy for the first time in the modern era.
Fantasy novel sales have benefited from this social change, with the original The Lord of the Rings novels, the Harry Potter series and a host of other fantasy favorites becoming a force in bestseller lists.
Even more recently, a work of historical fantasy (a hybrid form of fiction that boasts particularly dedicated fans), Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, has captured the imagination of the world. The novel, as of April 11, 2005, was on top of The New York Times' hardcover fiction bestseller list, even though the first edition came out more than two years prior. With the hardcover version doing so well, a softcover has not yet been introduced.
It is clear that fantasy is showing no signs of abating in popularity, even if the literary elite are slow to come around.