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The Child Reader’s Playful Adventures in Wonderland

Abstract : This chapter interrogates the widespread assumption that the Alice books engage in a game with the virtual (child) reader. A close analysis reveals that the virtual child reader constructed in both Alice books is actually extremely constrained. Carroll's virtual child reader, then, is more akin to Eco's Model Reader, whose participation is pre-constructed by the author, than to Iser's implied reader, who truly communicates with the text. Accordingly, although the virtual child reader is apparently invited to give in to what Caillois calls paidia (the impulsive manifestation of a play instinct), she is actually tricked into strictly adhering to ludus (the need to conform to rules). I nonetheless show that real adult readers seem to be able to take on the role of Impostor Readers-a term coined after Lecercle's theory of imposture (1999)-and imagine unforeseen realizations of the text, thereby combining paidia and ludus. Child readers could then be thought to be able to similarly playfully circumvent the rules laid out by Carroll's textual structures / strictures.
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Contributor : Virginie Iché <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - 3:34:23 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 4:14:02 PM


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Virginie Iché. The Child Reader’s Playful Adventures in Wonderland. Deszcz-Tryhubczak, Justyna; Kalla, Irena Barbara. Children’s Literature and Intergenerational Relationships, Springer International Publishing, pp.19-33, 2021, 978-3-030-67699-5. ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-67700-8_2⟩. ⟨hal-03209928⟩



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