Date of Award

1991

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Community and Language Studies

Abstract

The profusion of literary criticism surrounding the Alice books affirms the heterogeneous nature of the texts 'Which resist the imposition of an exclusive, closed interpretation. A deconstructive reading of the texts demonstrates the tendency of the books toward multiple meanings, revealing how they are transgressive of notions of coherence and structure. Utilising some of the concepts of Jacques Lacan to examine the texts beyond the traditional analytic readings, language is shown to be a signifying chain of desire, structured like the unconscious. Alice becomes Lacan's split subject, banished to the world of language where she finds herself enmeshed in an endless process of difference and absence. The psychoanalytic deconstructive reading then incorporates the concepts of critics such as Julia Kristeva and Helene Cixous to offer a feminist interpretation which deconstructs some of Lacan's notions. Several binary oppositions in the texts are then examined using Jacques Derrida' s strategies of deconstruction. The reading focuses primarily on the opposition sense/non-sense and reveals how blurred the distinction is between the two. If one cannot distinguish between sense and non-sense, then 'meaning’ is obviously problematic. Addaionally, Derrida's strategies show how the structures of the Alice books are themselves deconstructive and thus resist closure. All frames and borders are dissolved becoming subsumed to 3 trace of differences. Intertextuality also ensures the recession of boundaries, and the annotations, which punctuate the edition of the Alice books used in the thesis, further fragment the text. Finally, it is shown how the Alice books, which cross generic boundaries and draw upon elements from realism through to postmodernism, simply defy definition through categorisation

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