Friday, March 14, 2014

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

A few months ago, some friends called inviting us to join them at a play rendition of C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. Tonight is that night. In anticipation of going to this play, I thought I would be helpful to read the book since I have never read it before. 

The Great Divorce is an allegorical story fancifully told by Lewis on the separation between Heaven and Hell. Or maybe not the separation, but what a separation might seem like. His point in this is not to paint the picture of what it will be like once someone leaves this earth. He is very clear in the preface of the book that this is a fantasy. He says,
"I beg readers to remember that this is a fantasy. It has of course--or I intended it to have--a moral. But the transmortal conditions are solely an imaginative supposal: they are not even a guess or a speculation at what may actually await us. The last thing I wish is to arouse factual curiosity about the details of the after-world" (x).
This is important to remember as you read this book. If you were to take it literally, then it would become very confusing as the spirits walk on grass and water that is beautiful but hard on the feet. The main part of the story is a busload of spirits that journey from hell to heaven (or it appears so) and are forced to deal with whether they want to remain in hell or go to heaven. To be honest, there were parts of this book that made me squirm until I reached the end, which made everything come into view (but I refuse to mention the end of the book as it will ruin it for anyone who has not read it).

In many ways, I find writing a review on this book very difficult. Do I mention the different people that are mentioned as struggling with this separation between heaven and hell? Do I talk about Lewis, who writes from the first person who is trying to figure this thing out himself? After just reading it one time, I'm not fully sure I grasp what he is trying to do in this book. 

On this bus ride between heaven and hell, he meets many people that struggle with one thing or another. One of the main things that impacted me about their stories are that there always seems to be an excuse as to why staying in heaven isn't a good idea for them. They don't want to give up a certain thing. They don't feel like its real. Or they don't feel loved. And even when they express love or joy, those that are unwilling to make the journey are always painted as ones who haven't understood love or joy. Their view is selfish and shallow.

I am excited to see the play tonight. I look forward to see how they portray the characters and their struggle as they look at heaven and hell. I am hopeful that through the conversations with our friends, and the dramatic interpretation of the cast members, I will understand this book a bit more. I will try to post a recap of it at some point. But one thing is for sure. Lewis was masterful at creating stories that raises curiosity. For that, I am grateful. 

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