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“Wonderland as a poetic world”

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Poetry born of language.
    1. A belief in a fanciful language and an unconventional poetry.
    2. An innovative language to characterize the inhabitants of Wonderland.
    3. The poetry of aesthetic in language.
  3. Nonsense and imagination create a poetical world.
    1. Wonderland: The subconscious of a poet.
    2. Carroll invents a new world through nonsense: Wonderland as a poetical work.
    3. The poetical world of the reader.
  4. The limits of poetry in Wonderland.
    1. The attenuation of violence.
    2. A world inhabited by unemotional characters: Wonderland becomes Wanderland.
  5. Bibliography.

Published in 1865, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland offers us a story characterized by humour, fantasy and nonsense. Originally entitled Alice's Adventures Under Ground, it tells how the young Alice dreams she follows a White Rabbit down to a rabbit hole, and how she strolls in a fantastic world, Wonderland, inhabited by whimsical creatures. This world, which has been first created by Carroll to divert children, is often considered as a poetic one. But is Wonderland indeed a poetic world? The adjective ?poetic? implies many notions: poetic language, creation, beauty, emotion. To what extent could we consider that both Lewis Carroll and Alice have created a poetic world? Are there limits to the poetic vision that the reader can have of Wonderland? In order to answer these questions, we will first study the poetic language of Wonderland; then we will explain how imagination and nonsense, which characterize the world, creates poetry. Finally, we will endeavour to stress the limits that can be found to the poetic vision of Wonderland. What characterize first Wonderland are its inhabitants; and those inhabitants reveal much of their personality through their conversations. Carroll manages to create both a poetic and innovative language.

[...] But the notion of a poetical world is also highly subjective, and the idealization of Wonderland can be considered as a limit to this poetic vision, as Wonderland appears as an unemotional world. Nevertheless, nonsense and poetry seem to be closely linked: as nonsense is characterized by verbal invention and plays upon the sounds of words, it is a perfect device to create a poetical world. It thus has been used in poetry, like the poem of the Victorian poet Edward Lear, Owl and the Pussy-cat?, published in 1871. [...]

[...] Wonderland is thus a poetical world insofar as it is characterized by a certain form of lyricism: Alice and Carroll, the poets, reveal themselves through this world. The process of creation of Wonderland is also comparable with the creation of poetry. A poetical world is a world which exists in the present moment-the moment during which the poet had imagined it-and in the long term-the poem as a written work which can be read by future generations. Wonderland partakes of this duality: it is both a fleeting world-because it exists only during the dream of Alice-and an eternal one-through the book written by Carroll. [...]

[...] Alice and Carroll succeed in inviting the reader to share their world: we have never seen a cat who can disappear, but we are willing, perhaps not to believe, but to accept that the Cheshire Cat, in Chapter 6 and Pepper?, can disappear and reappear as he likes; Alice herself agrees that occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seem quite natural? (Chapter ?Down the Rabbit Hole?). The world of Wonderland is poetical because it invites the reader to enter this invented world, and to accept its codes: we turn out to think, as Alice ?that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way?. [...]

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