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The Pilgrim's Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity, Reason, and Romanticism

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,038 Ratings  ·  271 Reviews
In this novel written within a year of his conversion, Lewis characterizes the various theological and temperamental leanings of different parts of the Church.
Unknown Binding, 211 pages
Published October 1st 1981 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (first published 1933)
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Douglas Wilson
Feb 13, 2016 Douglas Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, satire
Excellent. Finished the audio version in February 2016. In the Afterword, Lewis apologizes for the book, an apology I refuse to accept. Just delightful.
Amanda
Jul 22, 2011 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Before picking up this excellent book, there are a few things the reader needs to understand: First of all, what the title means. Many people are confused about the word "regress," especially since it mirrors Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress." Many people (myself included) are under the impression that the story is about a Christian backsliding in his faith. In reality, the "regress" refers to the fact that, as Richard Wagner put it in "C.S. Lewis and Narnia for Dummies," you aren't "simply shuf ...more
Jacob Aitken
This book described Lewis' conversion to Christianity using an allegory. It parallels many of the same themes in *Surprised by Joy,* namely that joy (or sehnsucht) is inevitable and can be filled rightly or wrongly. The reader discovers that Christianity does not get rid of utter desire and joy, but transforms them. In the meanwhile, using John, Lewis tells us how he escaped the snares of various penny-ante yet at the time culturally respectable secular philosophies.

The good:
Lewis showed how Chr
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Feb 07, 2014 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it
I love C.S. Lewis but I'll be honest here. this one went almost completely over my head the first time I read it. I got a philosophical reference here and there but Lewis was so well versed in philosophy that I was left in the dust and forced back to the drawing board. Anyone who has studied Lewis probably knows he started as an atheist and after much struggle became a Christian. He came to the Lord in large part through logic and philosophical study so early on thought most others did to. This ...more
Thomas
Sep 19, 2015 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am surprised at how long it took me to discover this book. I think the first time I heard of it was while reading George Sayer's Lewis biography. It is definitely a must-read for Lewis fans.

As The Pilgrim's Regress is Lewis' first novel as a Christian, I am also surprised at how developed his understanding of the faith was, even in its infancy. This books contains many of the same ideas that will be expressed more clearly in his future works like Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce. He wil
...more
Steve Hemmeke
One of Lewis's first books after his conversion, he uses Bunyan's trope to do what we now call a "worldview apologetic," as only a Cambridge literature don could. This work is quite obscure and hard to follow, at least for my small brain (though he admits the obscurity himself in a later preface in this edition.)

Lewis begins with hypocritical Puritan Christianity, and is merciless in his critique, replete with masks, badly told stories, and pious cliches. John, the Pilgrim, quickly leaves it, an
...more
Erin
Jun 23, 2009 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with some background of philosophy or literature
Recommended to Erin by: V
I loved this book! It is clear that it was written with more than a knowledge but rather a deep understanding of "the search" and the many different viewpoints that one comes into contact with along the way. The graceful art in which he interwove and utilized one's capacity for spacial visualization in such a deep and revealing way was amazing. If I were to liken it to something, and this may be a little strange but bear with me, it would remind me of a flower. It starts off as a bud held in you ...more
Timothy Stone
The Pilgrim's Regress is one of those books that are both puzzling and gratifying at the same time. The book is partly autobiographical, in that CS Lewis used imagery and allegory to depict his own journey of faith.

This obviously seems to be influenced by John Bunyan's religious and political tract, The Pilgrim's Progress. Just like Bunyan narrating the story in the form of a "dream" he had, so Lewis narrates this story the same way.

I will say that this story is both easier and harder for me to
...more
M. J.
It is always disappointing to read a book by a favorite author that disappoints. In this case, there are clear reasons why it does so, some of them outlined in the Afterword to this, the 1943 edition of the 1933 book.

I had become aware of the title decades ago in college; it was a clever title, and I wanted to read the book then, but being a student and newly wed afforded little in both money and time. It was not until sometime in the past decade, when my wife was spending a small fortune at Bor
...more
Bob
Jun 17, 2015 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian, inklings
Most don't consider this one of Lewis's best, and truthfully, neither did I. But even "inferior" Lewis is better than much that is out there.

The book is a pilgrimage narrative that reflects Lewis's journey from early religious instruction (humorously portrayed by the Steward who presents the law both seriously behind a mask, and with a wink and a nod). John, the pilgrim in this story subsequently sights a beautiful island, and eventually strikes out in quest of the island moving successively thr
...more
Bart Breen
May 24, 2012 Bart Breen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listen to the Audio Tape if you can!

I recently listened to this work of Lewis' as read by Whitfield from the 3rd edition. I have no doubt that I would have enjoyed reading it, but this narration truly brought it to life in a manner that reading might have failed to do.

Having some background certainly will help the reader to understand what Lewis is doing here. Certainly, someone unfamiliar with John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" would stand a pretty good chance of getting lost. I'm not sure I ag
...more
Jay Miklovic
Nov 21, 2011 Jay Miklovic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the outset I must confess that at least 1/3 of this book was well over my head. With that said, this was an enjoyable book to read, and the portions which resonated with me were well worth the confusion I endured during the other portions.

Lewis was a master of allegory, and this book is no exception. The reader who struggles intellectually with the faith will find this book to be a breath of fresh air. John, the main character's, struggle with the various philosophies and philosophers of the
...more
Lance Schaubert
I don’t know what I can say about this to convey the weight of the book other than to say (1) Lewis was obviously younger when he wrote this than when he wrote his other books (2) I’m younger than Lewis was when he published this volume (3) this volume explains a great deal of his work elsewhere.

Oh, and of course that he decimates many false philosophies that are alive and well today, though not with as much grace as he has elsewhere. There are parts in the this book that will remain with me unt
...more
Ben De Bono
If you thought Narnia's allegory was a bit too subtle, then this is the book for you! Not Lewis' best, an opinion he himself shared
Nathan Albright
May 26, 2016 Nathan Albright rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge
As an early Christian, shortly after returning to the fold, so to speak, after a youth and a young adulthood spent as an atheist, C.S. Lewis wrote this book. The book is an obvious reference to the classic work by John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress [1] and seeks to provide a discussion of the moral landscape of his life outside of Christianity as well as the difficult process of his conversion back to the Anglican faith he had, albeit not with personal conviction, as a child growing up in the Prote ...more
David Sarkies
Dec 06, 2014 David Sarkies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Intellectuals
Recommended to David by: My friend
Shelves: christian
An allegory of the author's intellectual journey
6 December 2014

After I started reading this book for a second time I suddenly kicked myself for not reading Pilgrim's Progress beforehand because it is quite clear that the former book has heavily influenced this work. However, I have read it (a while ago) and are somewhat familiar with the story, so it wasn't that big of a mistake. Anyway, following the tradition of Pilgrim's Progress, Lewis sets out to write an allegorical spiritual journey whic
...more
Tiffany Huffman
Sep 09, 2015 Tiffany Huffman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Pilgrim's Regress is C.S. Lewis' added thoughts on John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. I really enjoyed this read, and as with all of the books I've read by C.S. Lewis, there are moments in this book where I was "mind-blown" and had to take a break and let my thoughts process what I just read. I love a good book that makes me rethink my life perspective.

My main take-away from this book was something that changed my perspective on the "journey to heaven". In very short summary , Lewis demonstr

...more
David Gregg
This is a very meaningful story. I enjoyed it thoroughly and intend to read it again.
Edu
Mar 09, 2009 Edu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first found this book I was intrigued because it was a book from C.S Lewis and I have read Narnia which were some books I liked a lot. Now this book is a little different from the rest because even though the genera is fantasy It has not as much good characterization, setting , imagery or word choice but is still a good book. Now the story is about a man named John that is trying to get to this enchanted island. Now since he is trying to get to that island he will have to go through many ...more
Stephanie Ricker
We’re reading Pilgrim’s Regress by C.S. Lewis this week for our philosophy group. I’ve read Pilgrim’s Progress, of course, but wasn’t terribly impressed; I know it’s a classic, but something about that book just rubs me the wrong way. I was baffled by the passage in Little Women where the girls talk about loving to read it because it was such an adventure story. I wondered if maybe I was reading the wrong book, since Pilgrim’s Progress invariably puts me into a coma, and this coming from the gir ...more
Rachel
Mar 08, 2016 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The last few chapters were the best. Finally, all the threads began to weave themselves together and the picture was revealed, though still less positively beautiful than could be hoped.

I also naively thought of this book entirely as a conversion narrative, rather than as a serious and detailed apology for the philosophical climate of Lewis' day. As a conversion narrative, I found all the focus on evil and the grappling with such as tedious and depressing. Realising the dual purpose gives meanin
...more
Ancient
Oct 19, 2007 Ancient rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People curious about Lewis' early stab at allegorical fantasy.
Shelves: fantasy, religion, fiction
In short, not Lewis at his best.

Pilgrim's Regress is a strange mix of allegory, philosophical monologues, and poetry loosely cast together. The book never quite achieves that unity of flowing narrative the way the Narnia series does. It's more a parade of vignettes than a story proper.

The book suffers from quite a few other problems. It's dated perspective having been written with 1930's culture in mind (which includes some unfortunate not-so-subtly racist passages). Lewis himself describes Pi
...more
Jim B
Jan 02, 2016 Jim B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: /
C.S. Lewis has been one of my favorite authors since my youth. I had not read this book, and found out that this was his first book written after his conversion to Christianity. The title suggested his variation on Pilgrim's Progress , another favorite of mine. So I wrestled over two years with putting this book on the back burner and taking it off, and only getting half way through it. Finally I decided the book held no interest for me. Then I looked at the author's "Afterword to the Third E ...more
Kris
Such an under-rated book by Lewis. I was amazed at all the things he managed to pack into this simple literary device -- a little allegory that turned out to not be so little.

So many philosophical movements, so many religions, so many emotions and character traits explored -- I loved seeing where John would go next and what pitfall he would discover. Loved Lewis's note at the end, from the third edition, as well -- a beautiful exploration of his fascination with desire and its basis in Christian
...more
ElSeven
Call this one a three and a half star rating.

As the title may suggest, this is a retelling/homage/revision/what-you-will of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. While in the broadest sense they are very like, with the protagonist moving from place to place, meeting, conversing with, and learning from various allegorical figures along the way, I found the particulars of Lewis' book to be much more enjoyable. Lewis includes none of the preachyness, or the sectarian arrogance that troubled me in Bunyan's
...more
Jill
Jun 28, 2015 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, classics, i-own, nook
An allegory written more-or-less in the style of Bunyan's classic. My limited familiarity with Latin, Greek, and philosophy, particularly the popular philosophies of the 1930's, no doubt limited my enjoyment of this book. :-) Nevertheless, it is an interesting example of Lewis's earlier writings.

Ian
Sep 09, 2013 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I shall not be bias. C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, if not my favorite, so I tend to just like his writings no matter what. But this book, "Pilgrim's Regress", I think is just a very captivating and informing book on both Lewis' personal experience, and issue's that are faced by many a christian. Though a little slow at certain parts,(which are usually because of some dialogue that is teaching doctrine or reason), It reads very much the same as his other works. He uses names of real p ...more
Laurel Hicks
It has been fifty years since I last read Lewis's allegory of the numinous. It still works for me.
Cheryl Floyd
Aug 27, 2015 Cheryl Floyd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. You don't have to read Pilgrim's Progress to appreciate or follow this allegory, Lewis' first published work after his conversion to Christianity. And that is what the book is reflecting, although though a very lofty means of using all his favorite quotes, Latin or otherwise along with the philosophies and beliefs he visited along his journey to accepting God and King and Savior.

It is hard to follow at times because he doesn't help us much grasp the Classical allusions he make
...more
Stuart
Apr 20, 2015 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Pilgrim's Progress is a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan that is considered one of the most popular works of all time and perhaps the most famous allegory of all time. In 1933, C.S. Lewis published a work called The Pilgrim's Regress. He billed it as an update version of Bunyan's work with a heavy dose of moral philosophy. In true Lewis fashion, he beats you over the head with his allegory. This is demonstrated by such characters as Mr. Enlightenment, Mr. Neo-Classical, and, Mr. Hum ...more
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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 at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than th ...more
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