Introducing Children's Literature: From Romanticism to Postmodernism

By Deborah Cogan Thacker; Jean Webb | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 6

Alice as subject in the logic of Wonderland

Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, written in 1864, is one of the seminal texts of fantasy literature for children, falling into the genre of nonsense writing. The mid-nineteenth-century period was one of exploration and rationalisation. It was also the period of classic realism in writing for adults, with George Eliot's Middlemarch (1871) representing the height of the form. Against this background Alice in Wonderland can be displaced as an irrational and illogical work of surreal fantasy. However, in this essay I contend that Carroll employs a particular logical strategy to explore the nature of human experience by setting Alice on a journey of self-discovery. By logically disrupting certain givens, such as time, place and the meaning of language, Carroll challenges and explores the rational hypotheses upon which the construction of the self was based. Against one context of rationalisation and the systematisation of life, for example, in the spreading influence of railway travel, it was those seeming certainties which were also being disrupted as communication and travel were speeding up; the knowledge base was expanding rapidly, and scientific exploration was challenging the known world. Carroll's surreal fantasy logically endeavours to explore this illogical tension.

In this fantasy world language is a site of contest and not even the physical body is a stable entity. Not surprisingly, Alice becomes a dislocated and confused subject when she enters Carroll's domain.

Carroll frames Alice's fantastic adventures with the idyllic image of a known reality. Alice sits on the bank next to her sister who is reading. Alice is bored by the book in which there are 'no pictures or conversations' (Carroll 1992:7). The combination of boredom and the heat of the day make her 'feel very sleepy and stupid'. As a result Alice is unprepared for the challenges to come in the world

-63-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Introducing Children's Literature: From Romanticism to Postmodernism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 191

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?