Making Sense of Nonsense: An Examination of Lewis Carroll's <i>Alice's Adventures in Wonderland</i> and Norton Juster's <i>The Phantom Tollbooth</i> as Allegories of Children's Learning

  • Maryn Brown University of British Columbia


Hailed as pre-eminent works of nonsense fantasy, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth (1961) quickly became and so remain landmarks of children's literature. As their respective protagonists, Alice and Milo, wander through unfamiliar and illogical other-worlds and find their knowledge continually exercised, confused and contradicted, both works effectively function as allegories of children's learning. Representative of two "golden moments" in children's literature, Alice and Tollbooth employ nonsense and word play to acknowledge children's experiences and struggles with tedium, educational methods, language, mathematics, manners, justice and their own processes of individuation.

Author Biography

Maryn Brown, University of British Columbia
Mavid Beagley is Lecturer in Children's Literature and Literacy at La Trobe University's Bendigo campus, Victoria, Australia, where he teaches units in Genres, History, Australian and Post-colonial children's literature. He has previously taught in secondary schools, and has been a school and university librarian.
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