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The Great Divorce

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  88,790 ratings  ·  4,383 reviews
In "The Great Divorce, " C.S. Lewis's classic vision of the Afterworld, the narrator boards a bus on a drizzly English 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 some significant realizations about the nature of good and evil.

A stunning new edition of this tim
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Paperback, 160 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by HarperCollins (first published 1945)
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Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, classics
One of my favorite (if not my favorite) C. S. Lewis works (and I am a C. S. Lewis fan). The insight in this book about God and man's relationship with Him is wonderful.

I suppose that many who read this will already know that I'm a Christian. I won't belabor it, if you're interested I'm happy to discuss if you don't want to I won't push my thoughts on you.

This is a very readable book and while I suppose the Christian aspects will be obvious it is also possible to simply read the book as a novel.
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Anne
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE reading everything C.S. Lewis. I read this book a few years ago and I couldn't put it down. The section of the book that stands out most to me is when the main character observes a conversation between two people (one who lives in heaven and one who is just visiting to see what it is like). The one who lives in heaven had killed someone while he was living on earth and the person visiting could not believe that the murderer had actually made it to heaven-The visiting man basically decided ...more
John
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This is my favorite work by C.S. Lewis. I’d give it 8 stars, . . if ‘twer possible.

In it, Lewis reacts to moral relativism (the Marriage of Heaven and Hell) by suggesting that “you cannot take all luggage with you on all journeys; on one journey even your right hand and your right eye may be among the things you have to leave behind.” He astutely notes that the “great divorce” of good and evil is utterly voluntarily. And he does so by conjuring up this simple tale of a bus ride from a ghostly,
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Fergus
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Imagine that you awoke one morning to find yourself wandering the streets of a grimy, gritty little twilit city in the middle of Nowhere.

You meander past endless shuttered and decrepit storefronts advertising nothing anyone would ever possibly want or need...

...to find yourself joining a long queue that is forming in a dark, gloomy side street.

You wait and wait, not knowing for what earthly reason you are there, among a crowd of obnoxious and surly rivals for the front of the line.

Where are we?
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nostalgebraist
Dec 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
I find myself in a strange place. Everything is unutterably beautiful, unusually large, and disproportionately heavy and rigid. My weight cannot bend the grass, and I cannot lift an apple. Also, I'm semi-transparent now. A blindingly luminescent human figure approaches me.

C. S. LEWIS: Hello there. I'm C. S. Lewis.

ROB: What is this place?

C. S. LEWIS: Why, this is heaven, of course. You can tell because everything here is so Real, and so joyous. The earth you knew was but a collection of dim shado
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booklady
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
Recommended to booklady by: Lucy
Lewis wrote The Great Divorce in response to William Blake’s famous poem, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Lewis didn't believe such a marriage of good and evil was possible on any level. He wrote, ‘...life is not like a pool but like a tree. It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but also from other good. I do not think that all who choose wrong ...more
Werner
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Serious Christian readers
I've classified this book on my "Christian life and thought" shelf, which is one of my nonfiction shelves. Technically, one might argue that this is a work of fiction, a made-up narrative that uses the device of a dream vision to supposedly describe places to which no earth-bound human has ever been. But here, as with some of Hawthorne's short stories/essays, the fiction is so message-driven that any dividing line separating it from an essay is thin indeed. It's very much a narrative about ideas ...more
Nikki
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!!!!
I just listened to the audio of "The Great Divorce." It was my first reading of this book, and I know there will be many re-readings in my future. I feel a first reading was really just a glimpse of what it will be like to delve into it again and again. First of all, I must say that I adore Lewis's writing style and that his stories really resonate with me. And I know I'm just beginning to touch the surface. I have read Narnia a couple times and I read "The Problem with Pain" last year. I'm eage ...more
Rachel
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Once again C.S. Lewis shows us how deft he is at cracking open the mysteries of human spirituality and motivation. This book is an allegory for heaven and hell and as he describes each of the characters and how they ultimately choose their eternal reward, we can glimpse a bit of ourselves.

My favorite part is when he describes a woman who has chosen heaven but whose husband refuses to give up the little devil sitting on his shoulder and ultimately chooses to return to hell. The narrator asks how
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Jacob J.
If heaven and hell are this boring, we're doomed either way.
Brian
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
I’m learning that, at least to me, reading Lewis can be a terrifying, dangerous endeavor. Why? Because he will change you and influence you without your realizing it. In all honesty, I had some trouble reading through this at times. I couldn’t get beyond my theological disagreements but have learned to accept the truth he presents without criticism, agree to disagree. I know I’m nothing compared to Lewis, but I believe every person should think for themselves rather than depend on opinions of ot ...more
Sunshine Rodgers
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” was puzzling at first. I read and kept waiting for the action. When was the plot going to happen? When is there going to be a turn of events? When is the story going to progress? And all the while I kept thinking about different scenarios and various outcomes the character was going to have to go through or where he would eventually go at the end… but no. This book cannot and should not be predicted. My struggle was my pull to get the story going when it actuality ...more
Gabriel
Sep 12, 2007 rated it liked it
As a story, this isn’t that amazing, as very little “happens.” As a collection of images about theology, and especially about sin and how it can keep one away from union with God, it is very insightful. Lewis, in my view, provides the best explanations of how heaven works, or more specifically how it can be that a loving God and hell can coexist. The “dwarves in the stable” from The Last Battle are the best depiction of this; reading them I first understood how one could ever choose to reject Go ...more
Laurel Hicks
2016: I always love meeting George Macdonald again. This serious fantasy abounds in humor and understanding of human nature.

2014: In this brief and beautiful allegory, Lewis takes us on a tour of heaven and hell, where we learn about our powers to choose between self and salvation.

This was a great book to read in conjunction with Milton's Paradise Lost.

2013: also a great book to lay alongside Dante's Divine Comedy.
Mark
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wonders
Recommended to Mark by: My parish priest
This is one of the cleverest and yet simplest explorations of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory that I have ever read. There is a day trip up from hell, the travellers get off and meet people who have come to talk to them, to help them on their journey. This journey is expressed in all sorts of ways, with one it might be the need to step out into the public gaze when they feel unattractive or unprepared and so to move on from fear and the need for acclaim , for another the need to accept that your unde ...more
Liz
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Almost without exception, whatever CS Lewis writes is fine with me. The Great Divorce is my 2nd favorite CS Lewis book (I am not counting the Narnia series), and what I thought was most interesting about it was the people who were in hell did not know they were in hell. This is a familiar concept to me, I remember my dad and his minister friends discussing it. It was also interesting that people didn't get to heaven in the way they thought they would.

Obviously, no one has actual answers for the
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Kells Next Read
I've finally decided to read through as much C.S. Lewis works as I can and decided to start with The Great Divorce. I was by no means disappointed, in fact my appetite has been aroused and I'm hungry to devour more of this authors works.

Actual ratings 4.25
Jeremy
I own this edition. Go here to listen to Lewis read his introduction. See here for Joe Rigney on Lewis on Hell.

I do believe that artists have a responsibility to get theology as right as they can, even in their fiction, but I think that there is a significant difference between The Shack and Lewis's The Great Divorce. Whereas Young's novel really seemed to be promoting the theology behind it, The Great Divorce should not be read as proposing the way that Heaven and Hell really are. (Lewis himsel
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Cleo
If you found yourself in Hell and then were offered a chance to leave and spend an eternity in Heaven, you'd jump at it, wouldn't you? …….. Or would you …….??

The Great Divorce tells of a journey of souls from the grey town, which we soon see represents Hell, to a wide open space of meadows, rivers and mountains. Yet when the people disembark they are dismayed. They now appears as Ghosts and all the vegetation is dense and tough in a way that makes movement difficult and, at times, dangerous. And
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Abigayle Claire
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mademethink-2
I had a misconception about what this book was actually on, and a dream of Heaven and Hell was not it. It was fascinating the way Lewis demonstrated some strong philosophies and thought-provoking points through the medium of allegory yet again. While he intentionally states that he's not trying to provide an accurate picture of the afterlife, this was still very different from anything I've ever dreamed Heaven and Hell to be like. I enjoyed the story all the more for it being a less traditional ...more
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
Oh my goodness, I'm in shock! I feel like I have been hit with a ton of spiritual bricks; not an uncommon feeling after reading any of Lewis' books. How wonderful! The best part is that no matter what the subject or plot, Lewis always turns the focus back to Christ.

This book reminds me a bit of his book, "Pilgrim's Regress", and John Bunyan's book too. It follows that sort of pattern- wandering in a strange land, meeting allegorical people, having philosophical conversations with angels and men
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Jacob Aitken

(or how to obtain infinite joy by abandoning your-self)

This book is truly one of Lewis’ masterpieces. Lewis tells a parable of a bus ride from heaven to hell in order to show us why people choose hell. Lewis is not saying that somebody, once in hell, have a chance for “do-overs.” Lewis is showing us why some people, even suffering in hell, when (hypothetically) offered a chance to get out, would still choose hell over heaven.

In this book Lewis comes very close to the ancient Eastern view of the
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Liam Degnan
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
One of my all time favorites. I pick it up every now and again when I need some good reminders. Highly recommend!
David Sarkies
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
Lewis on Hell
13 November 2011

Even though he does have some strange ideas, I always enjoy reading a book by C.S. Lewis, and this book is no exception. The Great Divorce is actually an excellent exploration of the nature of heaven and hell and is about a man who finds himself in 'hell'. The this work hell is a huge city that appears empty, and that is because nobody can stand living with anybody else so they constantly move out to the fringes of the city. As such the idea of meeting up with famou
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Demetrius Rogers
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bible-theology
My word. This was amazing. How come I haven't read this before now? When you think of Lewis you think of the Chronicles of Narnia, probably Mere Christianity, and The Screwtape Letters. But, over the years I've been trying to delve into some of his other works. And after reading this, I'll have to say Lewis might be my favorite author. The guy's imagination was just simply off-the-hook good. And he used such artistry to cloak his presentations. And I love that they don't need to be these big fat ...more
Clare Cannon
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Young Adults & Adults
Shelves: adults, young-adult
This little book is too powerful to read only once. It is important to note that it has nothing to do with the impression given by its title - it is not about divorce. It is an allegory about the choices we make during life and where they will take us afterwards, though it is not strictly a 'religious' book. It offers a most startling contrast between the consequences of living for oneself or living for others, of trying to 'look out for number one', or emptying oneself in order to be able to re ...more
Stephen
3.0 stars. A well written, interesting story by C.S. Lewis who takes a very original approach to laying out his take on the classic story of the nature of sin and unhappiness and the path to redemption and true happiness. You can really feel Lewis' passion for his subject matter in this story which makes the narrative even more compelling.
Mike
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity, fiction
This is an excellent (and fascinating) book written by C.S. Lewis. It is written in such a way as to make the reader reflect on beliefs regarding good and evil, heaven and hell and some of life's other great mysteries.
Svetlana H.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, theology
One of my absolute favorites. C.S. Lewis is awesome as always. A bus ride through Hell cant get any better. Definitely a must read for every Christian.
Genni
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
--2017 Update--
After reading this a couple of years ago, I could not get Lewis's pictures out of my head. Below I said that if someone were to take the Bible as absolute truth then his implications would be unacceptable because the Bible "consistently" speaks of hell as a place of eternal fire and brimstone. I have read the Bible through every year for at least ten years now and still, my grandfather's old preaching colored my reading of it. I have since seen that it does not "consistently" spea
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Christian Goodrea...: The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis 52 139 Nov 30, 2018 04:07AM  
What character reminds you of yourself and why? 5 50 Feb 01, 2017 08:21PM  
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CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature
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“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. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” 1426 likes
“There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.” 599 likes
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