The essay provides a brief overview of the changing literary critical definitions and cultural evaluation of fairy tales. I argue that the most remarkable feature of this heterogeneous textual corpus resides in the affective narratological potential to stimulate wonder, to activate the imaginative aspect of the mind. The fantastic vision of a f
...ictional alternate universe enchants readers by suspending the natural physical laws and rational logic of ordinary consensus reality. But it also provides pragmatic assistance in understanding the perplexing complexity of human existence and the diverse thought systems attempting to make sense of it. Postmillennial transmediation tendencies expand the fairy-tale web with a dizzying variety of new forms, yet the genre’s traditional merits prevail in the celebration of empathy, solidarity, social justice, and a relentless optimism against all odds.
The essay starts out from a close-reading analysis of Lewis Carroll‘s Victorian fairytale fantasies about Alice,s adventures in Wonderland with the aim to explore the complex poetical and political potentials of nonsense as a literary genre and a mode of artistic expression questioning the reliability of representational strategies across a v
...ariety of media. Nonsense is decoded as a meaningful yet gradually defamiliarized act of symbolization that makes the implied reader lose confidence in conventional interpretive apparati and urges inventive linguistic creativity and ludic co-authorship. As Lecercle points out, nonsense elicits a self-reflective awareness concerning the ambiguity of common sense and the (mal)functioning of our sense-making methods through revealing the inherent poetic-metaphorical, associative-imaginative surplus, as well as the authoritative ideological charge and socio-historical residue of “ordinary” representation. In a Kristevian sense, the transverbal corporeal facet of the nonsense animates the physicality of the represented-representing bodies and revivifies the materiality of signifying activity‘s lived experience, as incarnated rhythms and sounds stress the sensorial stimulation of the human voice. To understand how “we imagine the unimaginable” I interface ordinary nonsense, logical nonsense (Dunn, McDonald) and ethical nonsense as complementary categories.