Randy Kennedy at The New York Times:
THE chief virtue of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” G. K. Chesterton once wrote, was Lewis Carroll’s celebration of flux, an escape “into a world where things are not fixed horribly in an eternal appropriateness, where apples grow on pear-trees, and any odd man you meet may have three legs.”
But for the generations that have surrounded the Alice tales with a fiercely protective love, the attraction of such mutability might not extend to the book itself and its sequel, “Through the Looking-Glass.” Consider the following nightmarish alternate universe: An author with the starchy pen name of Edgar Cuthwellis publishes a book with the flat-footed title “Alice’s Doings in Elf-Land,” or maybe the slightly less awkward but still pedestrian “Alice Among the Goblins.” His later book includes a mock-tragic ballad not about a walrus and a carpenter but about a walrus and a butterfly. Or maybe a baronet. Does a baronet sound better?
The Morgan Library & Museum’s captivating “Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland,” which opens on Friday as the newest entry in the crowded worldwide celebration of the 1865 publication of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” tells these kinds of unsettlingly Carrollian stories about the making of the stories Carroll began spinning for the three Liddell sisters — Lorina, Edith and Alice — on that famous Friday afternoon rowing trip up the Thames in 1862.