"Behind the Looking Glass" offers a fresh perspective in the ongoing, contemporary deconstruction of the Carroll Myth. Through rigorous examination of numerous myths that have been hitherto unquestioned, Ackerman skillfully positions Lewis Carroll in the theological and philosophical contexts of his time. She uncovers a Carroll whose radical religio-philosophical counter-response to patriarchal materialism moved his intellectual journey, intentionally or otherwise, deep into the waters of mysticism. The image of Carroll as a dreary Victorian conservative gives way to that of a man with wide intellectual parameters, an inquiring mind and bold, far-sighted vision."Behind the Looking Glass" demonstrates how nineteenth century currents of spiritualism, theosophy and occult philosophy co-mingled with Carroll's interest in revived Platonism and Neoplatonism, showcasing the Alice and Sylvie and Bruno books as unique points of conjunction between Carroll's intellect and spirituality. The scholarship in this work, while rigorous, is softly mixed with the kind of academic frivolity that Carroll himself might have enjoyed.
Ackerman exposes a Carroll who, having lost belief in the theological and mythological master plots of earlier eras, turned toward the imaginative fiction of wonderlands rife with philosophical content in response to his instinctive hunger for cosmic coherence and existential order.
"Forget psychoanalysis. Western esotericism is where the key to Lewis Carroll's Alice books has been all along and Sherry Ackerman has found it, polished it up, and reopened the real 'little door in the wall'." - Joscelyn Godwin, Ph.D., Professor of Music, Colgate University; author of The Theosophical Enlightenment and The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance. "Some of the magical brilliance of Lewis Carroll - starting with his own self-invention - lay in his command of the esoteric craft of hiding secrets in plain sight. To bring them to light calls for a writer who mirrors Charles Dodgson's formidable combination of scholarly erudition and spiritual passion. Meet Sherry Ackerman. She is as well-informed about the mathematics and physics of the late 19th century as she is in its art, literature, photography, and competing university agendas of Enlightenment and Romanticism." - Peter Manchester, Associate Professor of Philosophy, SUNY Stony Brook, Past President North American International Society for Neoplatonic Studies; author of Syntax of Time: The Phenomenology of Time in Greek Physics and Speculative Logic from Iamblichus to Anaximander. "In Carroll's mystical symbolism, Sherry Ackerman finds the efforts of the human soul to acquire knowledge of its true self (gnosis). This philosophic self-knowledge, she argues, is essentially different from other kinds of scientific knowledge that are based on empirical data, rational calculations or inductive generalizations." - Christos C. Evangeliou, Professor of Hellenic Philosophy, Towson University; Honorary President International Association for Greek Philosophy; author of Hellenic Philosophy: Origin and Character. "Sherry Ackerman takes theosophy, philosophy, and Lewis Carroll each on their own terms and marvelously succeeds in separating fact from fiction. The result is an intriguing and insightful blend of various schools of thought on Carroll--and his and our time--resulting in a rich tapestry that is both a great education and a pleasure to read." - Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti, author of A Bath, Bedside, and Armchair Companion to Lewis Carroll and Eels. "Dr. Ackerman [...] is exposing her students to a body of knowledge and a tradition of outsider thought that was hardly recognized as such in the anglosphere before the 1960s. She is introducing them to the tradition of Western Esotericism. [...] the study will reward scholars of children's literature and perhaps those cultural historians who may wish to trace the possible influence on Carroll and other imaginative writers of the period of what James Webb and Joscelyn Godwin after him have characterized as 'rejected knowledge', that is, the whole tradition of Western Esotericism." - Professor John Robert Colombo, author of many books, Fellow of the University of Toronto.