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The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

The Great Divorce (edition 2009)

by C. S. Lewis

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7,34582478 (4.23)136
Title:The Great Divorce
Authors:C. S. Lewis
Info:HarperOne (2009), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 160 pages
Collections:To read, Christian

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The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis


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Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
The allegory in it went over my head more often than in some of his other works, but it was interesting. Another one I'll have to try again with some kind of companion.

*Review written on February 18, 2016.* ( )
  danaenicole | Oct 16, 2016 |
I borrowed this from a friend. Took me forever to read it. And to be honest, I was disappointed.

First, C.S. Lewis chose a very interesting writing style with this book. First, all quotations are handled with single quotes (') rather than double quotes ("). This was sort of distracting, and when reading contractions (it's, they're, we'll, etc.), it was easy to misinterpret that single quote as the end of the quotation, even though it's in the middle of the contraction.

Second, I don't know what he was thinking, but when holding a dialogue between two individuals, one paragraph would generally, not always, mean one person was speaking. So, alternating paragraphs, meant alternating speakers. This is standard practice, however, he would only refer to who was speaking at the very beginning of the discussion. Rarely after that, would he remind you was talking at that paragraph. Because the characters in the book really don't have any distinct personality traits, you need to be paying sharp attention to the alternation of who is speaking, or it's lost, and you'll struggle with identifying who is who.

Aside from those literary criticisms, the book had some other issues. The narrator finds himself in some sort of waiting area, at a bus stop, in "grey town". It's not clear if this is Earth or Purgatory or even Hell itself (actually, it can't be Hell, because Hell is described as a state of mind, not a location). But, even though the queue is long, people are content with leaving the queue, which advances the narrator's position in the line, for some unknown reason.

Eventually, he gets on a bus, and lands in some sort of visual paradise, almost like a pleasant purgatory. Unfortunately, the landscape is harsh on his spirit body (the blades of grass like stiff knives, the water like hard glass, etc). So, while in this visual paradisaical purgatory, it's physically unpleasant.

The narrator meets some Spirits (people coming off the bus are called Ghosts), and these Spirits try to convince the Ghosts that they should enter Heaven, which is a physical location. So, this description of the afterlife consists of Hell as a state of mind, a "grey town" which much be the stereotypical Purgatory, a visual paradise, which must be a Purgatory version 2.0, and Heaven, which is a location in the mountains.

The crux of the book lies on the fact that people cannot give up their vices (mental, emotional, or physical), and need to learn how to become one with Love (which is described as God, then later God is a person, then not (it's all confusing)). Once they let go of these vices and become one with Love, they can enter the mountains, and go to Heaven.

My question is this- if Heaven can be reached by just walking up the mountains ... then why not just go there? I would think another bus would take them from Purgatory version 2.0 to Heaven, making it impossible to reach, without. And entrance to the bus would require a pass from a Spirit.

The book is all sorts of strange, and really doesn't go anywhere, or come to any conclusions. Just a bunch of Ghosts rambling on to Spirits why they cannot go to Heaven and become one with Love. Oh, that reminds me, the Spirits are all naked. Until they're not. Then they are again. Yeah. I dunno.

I wouldn't recommend this book. It's an odd explanation to sky fairies, the afterlife, hauntings, Hell Purgatories, Heaven, etc. ( )
  atoponce | Oct 7, 2016 |
One of the few Lewis books I can honestly say I did not like.

The rather obscure and and confused conclusions of the book make for a rather unrewarding read.
Most troubling however, were the implied beliefs in purgatory and universalism on the part of the author.

Such apparenly drastic deviation from scripural teaching and doctrine on the part of such a respected and influential Christian author could be shocking, to say the least.

Due to this, 'The Great Divorce' is not a book I would recommend. ( )
  Medievalgirl | Oct 4, 2016 |
This book was a little hard to read, since it was written in an old fashion "language", but it was short. It kind of reminded me of some of the weird dreams I have. I can't say I understood most of it, but perhaps my mind will continue to process it all. ( )
  Krild13 | Jun 10, 2016 |
This is story is about a bus trip from hell to heaven. The passengers are allowed to stay, and all but one of them chooses to go home. I'd never before thought that people might choose to leave heaven, but Lewis depicts very well the types of pride that might lure one into preferring a reign in hell over servitude in heaven. Hell is depicted here as a very lonely place, a haven of solipsists. People who wouldn't want to be in heaven if it's a place where God forgives people like [insert here someone you loath or despise]. ( )
1 vote evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
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"No, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a little of hell in it--no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go, every hair and feather."--George MacDonald
Barbara Wall: Best and most long-suffering of scribes
First words
I seemed to be standing in a busy queue by the side of a long, mean street.
When the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say, "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven," and the Lost, "We were always in Hell."
And both will speak truly.
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060652950, Paperback)

The Great Divorce is C.S. Lewis's Divine Comedy: the narrator bears strong resemblance to Lewis (by way of Dante); his Virgil is the fantasy writer George MacDonald; and upon boarding a bus in a nondescript neighborhood, the narrator is taken to Heaven and Hell. The book's primary message is presented with almost oblique tidiness--"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'" However, the narrator's descriptions of sin and temptation will hit quite close to home for many readers. Lewis has a genius for describing the intricacies of vanity and self-deception, and this book is tremendously persistent in forcing its reader to consider the ultimate consequences of everyday pettiness. --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A symbolic fantasy which finds a busload of condemned ghosts faced with the choice of giving up their cherished sins to enter the gates of Paradise.

(summary from another edition)

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