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The Great Divorce [Paperback]

C. S. Lewis
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 2000
This fantasy about a bus ride from hell to heaven--a round trip for some but not for others--raises questions about the details of the underworld. Reprint. 35,000 first printing.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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“Much deserves to be quoted... attractive imagery, amusing satire, exciting speculations... Lewis rouses curiosity about life after death only to sharpen awareness of this world.” (Guardian) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

C. S. Lewis takes us on a profound journey through both heaven and hell in this engaging allegorical tale. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis introduces us to supernatural beings who will change the way we think about good and evil. In The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis again employs his formidable talent for fable and allegory. The writer, in a dream, finds himself in a bus which travels between Hell and Heaven. This is the starting point for an extraordinary meditation upon good and evil which takes issue with William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. In Lewis's own words, "If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven then we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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I seemed to be standing in a busy queue by the side of a long, mean street. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Lewis' "The Great Divorce" is a book that I have owned for years but only recently read. I don't know why it took me so long, but now that I have read it I want to read it again all the more. I guess that is a sign of a good book. Many of you reading this review are no doubt familiar with Lewis the philosopher, theologian, writer, and speaker. Suffice to say he remains one of the most esteemed and brilliant thinkers and writers of the last century.
This book easily compares to the best of his work. The idea of using a fantasy-land constructed around a bus trip to try to give us some look into the unknown is pure Lewis. A dark, desolate, rainy bus stop gives us a mental picture of hell that reminds me of the films "Blade Runner" and "Dark City". The descriptions of a heaven-like place given in the book remind me of the house of Elrond and the elvish city in the recent "Lord of the Rings". The book essentially follows the author as he tours both of these worlds-seemingly seperated by a million miles. With George MacDonald as his guide, the author witnesses many interactions between those in the 'heavenly' world and those arriving from hell on a bus. The heavenly beings-who are solid-attempt to convince the spirits aboard the tour to remain with them and allow themselves to be made whole by the overseer of the heavenly realm.
Unfortunately, most of the spirits prefer to deal with their various troubles 'some other time' or not at all. Wishing to remain as they are, they refuse the help of the heavenly beings. We witness spirits literally and figuratively in chains of pity, anger, pride, arrogance, and fear. The answer to all of these maladies is offered to them with outstretched arms, they need only accept the gift.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually deserves 4.5 stars July 18 2001
By Linds
I have not read anything by Lewis for many years, and what I do remember of Lewis' work is very different from what I read in The Gread Divorce. While I am not a Christian and therefore not exactly sure how I feel about heaven and hell, this book was inspiring. The story is unlike any other I have read before, and I think accurately represents people's attitudes about heaven and hell. According to Lewis, "All that are in hell, choose it." Kind of a radical idea! (For anyone who is interested, the title of the novel is in reference to Blake's The Marraige of Heaven and Hell.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter Joy, June 8, 2000 Aug. 31 2012
By Mike London TOP 500 REVIEWER
[NOTE: I am reissuing my reviews on This review was originally published on June 8, 2000]

"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 `Thy will be done'."

This is a quote from this little volume, and effectively sums up the entire book in that one sentence. THE GREAT DIVORCE, like Lewis's TILL WE HAVE FACES, is his song of songs, his great achievement. Tolkien's was LORD OF THE RINGS, Adams' WATERSHIP DOWN, Sinclair Lewis' MAIN STREET. These novels are generally regarded as their major works. This little book, published in a little periodical called The Guardian, is one such book. (It was this periodical that Lewis's classic book THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS also appeared). Sadly, SCREWTAPE, though excellent in and of itself, is often given much more credit than this, which is a deeper work (and to those who know THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, know what a feat that is).

Perhaps one reason that this work is such an excellent little volume is its length of gestation: it was concieved in 1931 and written in 1944. Insipred by a sermon found in Jeremy Taylor's WORKS, suggested such a premise as to think, or take, the absuridity of damned souls getting a real refreshment from hell. Also another source was the fourth centru Latin poet named Prudentius Aurelius Clemens (his contribution can be found in "Hymn for the Lighting of the Lamp). Assuredly, one of the reasons that it took so long to be written (the first known written account is a diary entry by his brother Warnen on Paril 15, 1932) is he had not had it visualized. In terms of inspiration his fiction arose from "seeing pictures" in his mind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pondering the perspective of heaven May 1 2004
First I have to admit that I have not read much CS Lewis. Given his reputation as one of the premiere Christian writers of the last century I recently purchased a small stack of his signature series books. The Great Divorce is the first one I have read, and I was truly amazed by its simple, yet complex message.
This book is powerful fiction with enough theology to put the gears of your mind into overdrive. In my opinion Lewis addresses two key questions in The Great Divorce - Is there a difference between heaven and hell? And, does God truly give us the freewill to decide our own eternal destination? Lewis really makes the reader ponder these two "deep" topics, and think about why certain "types" of people may have more difficulty choosing heaven over hell.
I won't give away Lewis' conclusions, but instead I will highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a short, but powerful book. If you are a Christian you should definitely add this to your reading list. Lastly, if you are not a Christian, don't be afraid to read it. Lewis was a great writer by anyone's standards, and his "theology" is subtle enough to be enjoyed by anyone.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellente allégorie
Très instructive, on peut voir que Lewis a bien pense son analogie de l'enfer pour répondre à des questions difficile!
Published 14 days ago by SamGi
5.0 out of 5 stars Not about Divorce in normal terms.
A master piece of thought about what Heaven and Hell are like !
Published 2 months ago by Fr. John Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Quite fascinating dream about haven and hell CSL had
Published 2 months ago by William A. Bolduc
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite Exploration of a Heavy Topic
C. S. Lewis is one of the best-known Christian writers and apologists. His works have made a huge impact on generations of readers, and have brought Christian thought and doctrines... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dr. Bojan Tunguz
1.0 out of 5 stars Very difficult to understand
I read this book as part of a book club for the summer. I was not familiar with C.S. Lewis's work. I found this book overwhelmingly difficult to understand. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Carley
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating study on the human condition
C.S. Lewis is an excellent storyteller (as I already knew from the Chronicles of Narnia); this book does not disappoint! Read more
Published 14 months ago by KJ
4.0 out of 5 stars This CS Lewis at his most readable (outside of Narnia)
I really like CS Lewis. I especially liked the Great Divorce as it combines a nice story line with a lot to think about. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Michel N. Jutras
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I have read much of C.S. Lewis writings and I would say that this is one of my favorite books. Although I read a lot I prefer the shorter books and for this reason this is one of... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Robert Alexander portillo
5.0 out of 5 stars Received What I Expected
C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce" is a wonderful 'make-believe' story; one that I have cherished ever since I read it over a quarter century ago. Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2012 by brasilshortstop
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly done CD
The quality of this CD is excellent. The orator puts a great deal of expression into the characters and does a passable job with the various accents and idioms. Read more
Published on Dec 23 2009 by The Flying Kiwi
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