18 March 2005

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

Fiction. Paperback from Harper Collins Publishing. Originally published in 1946. Republished in 2002. Purchased at Canaan Christian Book Centre, Staines, UK.

It took me a long time to decide that I might like to read this book. I looked at the title and basically wrote it off as something I would not be interested in. Recently, however, I saw a description of the topic and decided that I might like to give it a look after all. The title puzzled me, though. I couldn't figure out what The Great Divorce had to do with heaven and hell. If I had done a little bit more research I would have easily discovered why Lewis chose that title. But, I didn't, and had to wait until I was reading the author's introduction before I found out that the title was chosen as a response to William Blakes work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Lewis presents less of a definite description of what heaven and hell will be like and more of a narrative of some of the consequences of human behaviour. I was pleasantly surprised to see George MacDonald show up as Lewis' tour guide as he makes his way around heaven. It was not a difficult book to read or understand on the first reading - it only took a couple of sittings to finish - but there are plenty of insights to contemplate.

Publisher's summary:
C.S. Lewis’s dazzling allegory about heaven and hell and the chasm fixed between them, is one of his most brilliantly imaginative tales which will appeal to readers of all ages. Lewis communicates deep spiritual truths through the sheer power of the fantastic.

In The Great Divorce the writer in a dream boards a bus on a drizzly afternoon and embarks on an incredible voyage through Heaven and Hell. He meets a host of supernatural beings far removed from his expectations and comes to significant realisations about the ultimate consequences of everyday behaviour. This is the starting point for a profound meditation upon good and evil. “If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”

To buy from amazon.co.uk, click here: The Great Divorce
from amazon.com, click here: The Great Divorce

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