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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

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1.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Poor Edition
Please don't be amazed at my poor rating of this book; it is not actually a rating of the great C.S. Lewis's "The Great Divorce," of which the earlier reviews speak eloquently; rather, it is this particular edition by HarperCollins/Zondervan. Simply put, this edition is liberally peppered with typographic errors, perhaps even a missing word here or there--you...
Published on Dec 21 2001 by Anonymous


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5.0 out of 5 stars Heaven or Hell? The choice is ours., Jan. 21 2003
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This review is from: Great Divorce (Paperback)
The perfect blend of logic, common-sense, and insight, the Great Divorce is typical CS Lewis. It is a masterpiece of Christian thinking, even by Lewis's standards, and ranks among his best in my opinion. This short work of fiction seeks to explain why some people go to heaven and others go to hell. Lewis's thesis is essentially this: those who are in heaven are there because they want to be, and those who are in hell are there because they want to be there, too. In other words, Divine judgment does not send individuals screaming down to hell--in fact, they go there themselves.

Lewis's guide in the story, who just happens to be George MacDonald, tells him that most people have the attitude best expressed by Milton in Paradise Lost: "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven." According to Lewis, it is pride and selfishness that keep people from wanting to go to heaven. In the story, a number of "ghosts" are brought to the outskirts of heaven by bus, yet almost none of them wants to actually enter heaven when given the chance. They all have some reason why heaven isn't good enough, why they shouldn't go there. In other words, they willfully go back to hell.

Of course, this story rocks the traditional views of the separation of the good and the evil, but Lewis presents his thesis in such an applicable story that it makes one stop and think. Why would a selfish, self-centered person want to be in heaven, anyway? What would they do? In Lewis's mind, there is no 'marriage' between heaven and hell, because the two (and those who occupy them) want to keep as much distance between them as possible. Hence the title.

As I said, I think this is one of Lewis's best. It definitely got me thinking. This is a great book, suitable for young adults and adults alike, that will certainly expand your mind on how we choose to live in our own personal heaven or hell.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The most mind-expanding book I have ever encountered, Dec 15 2002
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (North-Central Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Great Divorce (Paperback)
I first encountered this book during my college years, and at the time I thought that this was the most mind-expanding book that I had ever encountered. Picking it back up all these years later, I still feel the same way!
In this book, the incomparable C.S. Lewis takes the reader on a phantasmagoric journey from Hell to Heaven. There are no lakes of fire here or angels sitting on clouds strumming harps. Instead, the damned, who inhabit a lonely Hell of isolation of the mind, are permitted to journey to Heaven, where they can freely renounce their sinful natures and enjoy an eternity of salvation. But, as the narrator discovers, for all too many, their sinful thought forms (no matter how petty) are much more precious to them than all of the rewards of Heaven.
This book opens the reader's mind to more powerful ways of thinking about sin and about salvation. It certainly made me look at myself and the people around me with new eye. I highly recommend this book to Christians of every denomination and creed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique among Christian books, Nov. 8 2002
By 
Daniel L Edelen (Mt. Orab, OH USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Great Divorce (Paperback)
C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce" may be the most unusual book you will ever read. Beyond allegory, beyond fantasy, this look at the nature of Heaven, Hell, and the denizens of both has radically altered the view of what happens after we die in the lives of more people than any book you will encounter.
Lewis provides an utterly original view of the afterlife through the mechanism of a bus trip from Hell to Heaven. The portrayals of the vast, nearly-empty city in Hell and a Heaven more real and solid than our reality are so profound that many will find their thoughts on the two places forever altered.
Also included is an examination of the question that has haunted many: "How can a loving God send people to Hell?" Lewis brilliantly answers this in a way that is completely satisfying to even the most demanding inquirer. You'll have to read the book to see.
There are so many gems in "The Great Divorce" that any further discussion would spoil the book. But suffice it to say, this work of fiction may be the greatest ever written for provoking long and enjoyable discussions with others. As a worthy diversion from more heady small group studies, it is without peer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Alegory..., Aug. 14 2002
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This review is from: Great Divorce (Paperback)
After Screwtape, this is my favorite work from Lewis (and it is a close call). The book is short, but I read slow (especially something as weighty as Lewis). I could not put this book down until I finished it.
NOTE: Lewis himself made it clear that this book is not about the mechanics of the afterlife. It is about the cancerous nature of sin and how it interferes with out relationship to the Most High. If this entire story were taken literally then there would be discrepencies between it and scriptures concerning the attitudes of the damned souls, the nature of Hell/purgatory and the call to salvation. I suppose I should explain:
1) Most of the visitors from Hell refuse heaven and can not enjoy it because they are unwilling to repent of their sins. Jesus tells a story of a soul in Hell that yearned for just a drop of water (relief) from heaven. Souls in Hell will yearn for heaven and despise Hell.
2) Purgatory is not an idea found in Holy Scripture, and Lewis is dodgy about where the visitors are from. That aside, there are no visitors from Hell to even the outter realms of Heaven. It is true that Satan visits God's thrown room and raises accusations against us, but he has not yet been thrown into "the pit". He is called the "Prince of this World".
3) Salvation is an act of faith. Old Testement Believers had faith a Savior would come. New Testement believers have faith he came (and will return). Once you die you meet him. That's not faith. It's sight. To quote the famous hymn, "if you terry till your burried you will never come at all".
Those are not the point of the book. And the points it makes about sin and human nature are excellent!
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE GREAT DIVORCE, May 28 2002
By 
K. Jump (Corbin, KY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Great Divorce (Paperback)
As Lewis explains in his preface, The Great Divorce is a response to the attitude of William Blake, among others, that someday there will be an ideal union of the secular and divine, or Heaven and Hell. Unable to see how this could ever be, Lewis wrote The Great Divorce to explore the issue further. The result is a religous allegory of the highest caliber and impeccable, nearly frightening, insight.
As with all allegories, The Great Divorce relies on symbolism to make its point. Lewis admits his book is not to be taken literally as a tour guide of either Heaven or Hell, but merely as an artistic expression of his ideas. And the plot device works well--Lewis's intensely brilliant yet readily accessible and familiar writing style makes it easy to imagine oneself in the narrator's shoes on the uneasy bus ride out of Hell, hunkering under the great mountains of Glory, or even talking uncertainly with Ghosts or Spirits (oh yes, there is a big difference!).
The Great Divorce is a fine read for anyone, believer or unbeliever. The former will find many challenges and assurances; the latter will discover new insights into the Christian faith not readily available from other sources. Above all, The Great Divorce is a Dante-esque tour of not only the Worlds Beyond, but just as importantly one of the often unexplored metaphysical World within us all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Heaven is more real than Earth, May 1 2002
By 
Phil Wade (Georgia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Great Divorce (Paperback)
A friend told me that this book opened his eyes to the fact that some people don't want answers, only debate and politics. He couldn't believe people would think that way, but then he went to college and experienced them for himself.
Lewis has written a fun, memorable story about going to hell in a dream (or vision) and taking a bus tour of heaven. The ghostly figures that file timidly off the bus are barely visible in the bright light of heaven, and the grass is so much more real (or true) than they are it hurts their feet. One man tried to steal a golden apple, and he may as well have been trying to hiest a boulder. Lewis himself, writing in first person, feared a coming rain may pummel them into the ground.
But after the initial shock of a world more real than he could imagine, he watched the other tourist interact with heavenly friends who had come to greet them. Some of them were friends from earth, some just kind-hearted people. Again and again the hellions (if I may call them that) choose to hold on to their worthless pride or foolhearty beliefs rather than humble themselves to the truth. Pride manifests itself in a hundred subtle ways as these pitiful souls whine about perceived injustices or irrational motives. Thankfully, a few tourists do humble themselves, become transformed into marvelously real beings, and remain in heaven. But most don't, about which the great Scottish author George MacDonald, Lewis' heavenly guide, says, "They may not be rejecting the truth of heaven now. They may be reenacting the rejection they made while on earth."
This book has curious insight into our human hearts and teaches a few Biblical ideas in very memorable ways. I enjoyed reading it myself and again aloud to my wife. Lewis has a nice, readable style. 4 stars, only because a guy can't give everything good five stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking and profound analysis of Free Will, March 22 2002
By 
A. Riffo (Santiago, Chile) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Great Divorce (Paperback)
Allow me to begin by saying that I am, at best, skeptic regarding the existence of God. Yet, C. S. Lewis remains being one of my favourite authors, and this is by far one my favourite books by him. Through the allegory of a bus journey, this Christian writer allows to enter what he believes Heaven and Hell to be like. This, however, is just the means Lewis uses to face us with something much deeper and, to many of us skeptics, mind-boggling: The question of Free Will. Why is it that some people are granted entrance to Heaven, while others are doomed to Hell? How can a benevolent God punish his creatures so cruelly? He does not, Lewis claims; it is us who make the choice, whether consciously or not. This is what THE GREAT DIVORCE is about: making us aware of our own actions and where they lead us, thus forcing us to take a good, hard look at human nature... and our own. Afraid to do so? Then you should definitely read it.
PS: What can I say? I've declared myself an atheist for a long time. Yet, the more C. S. Lewis I read, the more I doubt my beliefs- or lack thereof.
Andrea
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1.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Poor Edition, Dec 21 2001
By 
Anonymous (Roseville, MI USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Great Divorce (Paperback)
Please don't be amazed at my poor rating of this book; it is not actually a rating of the great C.S. Lewis's "The Great Divorce," of which the earlier reviews speak eloquently; rather, it is this particular edition by HarperCollins/Zondervan. Simply put, this edition is liberally peppered with typographic errors, perhaps even a missing word here or there--you won't be able to tell unless you get a reliable edition elsewhere and compare the two. But I found errors like "to" spelled as "eo," "the" spelled "teh," and so on, far too many simple errors to be permitted in such a slender volume. Hey, Harper/Collins and Zondervan: no one cares if fundamentalist claptrap books has typographical errors, since these are not read by thinkers, but when you set to reprint a work by one of the Great Authors, at least show him the courtesy of hiring an editor and proofreader to check the galley pages. Suffice it to say, since this edition is part of the "Signature Series," and presumably other Lewis books in the series is prepared in a similarly slipshod fashion, I will have to look for other editions of Lewis's works that I don't as yet own. (Of course, none of this may be important to the reader if he doesn't mind less than acceptable fidelity to the original editions of "The Great Divorce": in which case, I suppose this edition is better than none.)--A Former Editor
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but a bit lacking in compassion, Oct. 16 2001
This review is from: Great Divorce (Paperback)
Although I do not share Lewis's metaphysical assumptions about heaven and hell, I think The Great Divorce, in addition to being a thought-provoking religious piece, is one of the best "ghost stories" I have ever read. There's always been a moral dimension to the ghost story...the ghost seen as a sad spirit bound by the faults that enchained him in life. Lewis skilfully presents this concept in this novel about a group of spirits in hell who take a bus-ride to heaven but find no happiness there, because they bring their own hell with them.
If there is one criticism I have of the novel it is that it seems rather heartless at times. While Lewis's narrator does not go so far as to rejoice in the sufferings of the damned, neither, it seems, is there much pity for them in the celestial realm. Lewis at times takes pains to criticize human emotions like pity, compassion, and an inordinate desire for human (as opposed to divine) companionship. His whole concept of saved vs. damned leaves very little room for ordinary human-ness, which sometimes imparts a rather cold and inhuman quality to the novel. Nevertheless, the novel's originality and skillful style do make it worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Allegory, July 12 2001
This review is from: Great Divorce (Paperback)
You always hear about people talking about life-changing books. Perhaps I greeted this with a certain degree of incredulity. Surely they were referring to books they simply liked, or maybe even loved?
That was before I happened upon this book. It was recommended to me by a minister and director of a youth organization where I volunteered several years ago. And it isn't until now that I completed it. But I can finally say that I have encountered a book that has truly sparked cause for me to take a look back on my life.
Lewis takes the reader on a bus ride from hell to heaven, or rather the Valley of the Shadow of Heaven. In heaven we see that all who took the bus ride are merely Ghosts here: ethereal figures. They are greeted by Spirits, people of light and substance who have accepted God as their ultimate Love. The Ghosts are given the choice to continue on to Heaven, or take the bus back to Hell. The path to Heaven won't be without pain, as the Ghosts must give up the earthly vices they have made their God.
Lewis' talent is in depicting so well the nature of humans. Don't expect to see the Ghosts' vices being anything so simple as hate for someone. Rather in one instance it is a mother's love for her son that keeps her from choosing Heaven, a love that blinds her from the ultimate love of God. I see so much of myself in these "Ghosts", and Lewis paints a very compassionate picture of the "damned" (they need not be if they choose not to be). Lewis' book in a sense almost helps you to step outside yourself and look with less clouded vision on the person you are. It is for this reason this has become my favorite work.
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Great Divorce
Great Divorce by C S Lewis (Paperback - Jan. 25 2001)
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