5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surface fantasy is framework for peak into human heart.
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...
Published on Oct. 2 2002 by Andy Williamson
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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. On the surface it's an interesting take on Heaven & Hell, but underneath trying to understand the symbolism and the true message I found to be impossible without the input of my book club friends.
Published 4 months ago by Carley
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surface fantasy is framework for peak into human heart.,
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.
The most powerful exchange in the book comes between a spirit who arrives with a little red lizard on his shoulder. (Readers of Lewis will recognize this from his earlier essay 'Horrid Red Things' in "God in the Dock"). The lizard embodies the spirit's struggles with lust; it continuously goads him on. As the spirit comes into contact with one of the heavenly angels, the angel states that if the man will only ask him to, he will kill the lizard. The lizard immediately warns the spirit that the angel is capable of this and reminds the spirit that if this is allowed, he-the spirit-will never enjoy the pleasures of lust and sin again. The spirit hems and haws, asking the angel many questions. Each time the angel responds "...MAY I KILL IT?"
It is heartbreaking to read as the spirit decides to allow the angel-hands hovering just around the neck of the lizard-to kill it, only to relent when he realizes that he himself will be hurt in the process of obtaining freedom. The angel responds: "I never said it would not hurt you, only that it would not kill you." This seems eerily similar to so many of us in the 'real' world who, when offered freedom thru Christ and the solutions to our myriad of social, emotional, spiritual, and physical struggles, raise an angry hand to God and reject His offer. How many of us want our problems to be fixed, our wounds healed and our pain dealt with-without any pain!? How many of us prefer to hold onto the very things that are destroying us? Keeping us from God?
A brilliant treatise on the ability of the human-in this case the spirit of departed humans-to rationalize and justify our behavior, whether it be an overbearing, controlling mother, a frightened woman, a man diseased with lust, those consumed by career, or any of the other characters in the book. Look deeper because there is a message for everyone in this book. A powerful allegory of the struggle to make the Gospel known to others.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually deserves 4.5 stars,
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very difficult to understand,
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating study on the human condition,
4.0 out of 5 stars This CS Lewis at his most readable (outside of Narnia),
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic,
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter Joy, 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. (Example: One of his images he received when he was about 16, and it was a faun with parcels in one hand and an umbrella in the other, standing in a wintery, snow laden forest).
Much of this short little novel has a direct comparison or parellel to Dante's DIVINE COMEDY. Just like Beatrice to Dante, so also was George MacDonald to C. S. Lewis. MacDonald was almost a Universalist. He believed most of the world populace would submit and enter into joy, and know God's love. A lot of this would occur after death. According to Sayer, Lewis did not believe this, but thought it was a possibility (much my view on purgatory). What Lewis had to do was to rectify this belief with the others of purgatory, hell, heaven, predestination, damnation, etc. How he did so was a stroke of genius: he made hell and purgatory the same place. To those who would leave and give up a vice, it was only purgatory; but to those who were determined to keep their wickedness, instead of entering into joy, were damned. To enter into Heaven, the only prerequiste was to give up a vice. That was all. Some lust, some apostasty, some selfishness and false love (the mother Pam for her son Michael). Just like Dante, Lewis has an Apostate Anglican bishop in there.
One of the things that he has done most brillantly is the potrayal of the Platonic belief that the essence of something is more real than the thing itself. Virture is more real that the vitrue that is practiced. Everything in God is much more real and tangible than hell, and Lewis does this marvelously. A device he borrowed from a writer whose name was unknown to him, Lewis made everything very, very real, and the damned men and women were but ghosts in that heavenly place. Each had an accompaning Spirit, one who has surrendered to God. In that place, the ones saved are real and can bend the grass and walk and swim, but always traveling further up and further in (to borrow a Narnian phrase, although it equally applies here). To aid the damned, the real, the saved, must go back and forsake their journey for a time, to aid those that will.
One of the grandest scenes is toward the very last, in which a lady named Sarah is seen. In this, another of his master's ideals is expressed. Sarah Smith is no great woman by earth's standards, but she is so close to God, everyone she meets she changes for the better. God wants to use you, not only for his own intimate purposes, but for you also to update and bring the quality of the life for others around you to a much better place. Her whole train of follows is transformed by her love, because she allows God to work through her, and submitted to her; in turn, she transforms others, because she is a yielded vessel. Macdonald states of her "There's joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life". Likewise, because of Lewis being yielded to God, this book has a similar effect (as, perhaps, all of his books do -- I cannot say all because I have not read all).
Ultimately, the entire point of this beautiful little book is that there could be no damnation without free choice. God made us to fellowship with us, not to damn us to hell. We are to enter into joy - but because we live in a fallen world, we might choose to hang onto some vice instead of entering into joy. Joy, that grand and beautiful intimacy with the Lord, real satisfying water that will forever quench your thirst, that is what C. S. Lewis is about. Let us not choose to stay in Hell. But one must understand this - Lewis is not advocating there is such a thing as bus rides to hell. The novel is, of course, but a dream. It is no way an examination of what lies after we die, although it does give thought to MacDonald's view on Universalism, though Lewis did not hold that view himself. Enter into joy, dear child, and meet Christ.
5.0 out of 5 stars Received What I Expected,
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars For Christian allegory fans only,
Just a few other small comments. In his introduction, Lewis finds it necessary to remind the reader that it is allegory, and he is not trying in any way to factually describe the afterlife. In fact he says, "encouraging factual curiosity of the afterlife is the last thing I want to do". Well, um, then what's the point? Though I maintain being agnostic, but I have to admit I lean more towards atheism. One of the reasons being that no one has presented, to my mind anyway, a plausible scenerio for what the afterlife is really like. An infinite life where there is presumably no pain or evil, would have to be inherently very different from our mortal existence. So different if such does exist, then it seems difficult to imagine any purpose to this very limited existence we have here. After all, a billion years from now, are you going to be sitting around heaven talking about the time your aunt died or something? I'm wondering if the reason Lewis doesn't want to "encourage factual curiosity" about the afterlife is because that when one tries to ponder it factually, it seems rather implausible.
I think that a Christian would say that a quote late in the book more or less sums up what Lewis is trying to say. Lewis says that "there are two kinds of people, those that say to God 'thy will be done' and those that God says to them, 'thy will be done.'" Well, don't take the following statement as "bashing" Christians, I am fully aware that by and large, Christians are fine people. But of course there are those that claim to be Christians that don't seem like such fine people. My only point in this is that I basically reject that there is some intrinsic difference between those that choose to be Christians and those that don't. The point of the book is to try to show this supposed intrinsic difference, an intrisic difference would would last for eternity, which I reject exists. I reject Lewis' premise. I'm just in general not a big fan of allegory. And even Lewis himself says it says nothing about the real form of heaven and hell. So for me, it was a boring, useless waste of time. But if you are a Christian and like allegory, well, ignore me, I'm sure you'll like the book.
NOTE: At the time of this edit of my review, I've got 0 out of 4 helpful votes. I guess I shouldn't be surprised as I'm giving a negative review of a popular book. But the point is - is my review actually helpful? And I think it is. I freely admit that those in the target audience will like it and I explain why I don't like it. That's what's called a GOOD review folks - don't say it is a bad review just because you don't like my opinion!
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly done CD,
This review is from: The Great Divorce Unabridged Cd (Audio 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. Overall this is a very well done reading of an excellent book that I highly recommend.
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The Great Divorce Unabridged Cd by C S Lewis (Audio CD - Nov. 13 2003)
CDN$ 28.00 CDN$ 17.56