Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Pilgrim's Regress” as Want to Read:
The Pilgrim's Regress
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Pilgrim's Regress

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  5,549 Ratings  ·  321 Reviews
In the style of John Bunyan's classic, Pilgrim's Progress, The Pilgrim's Regress is the first book C.S. Lewis wrote after becoming a Christian. It is a provocative and moving story which traces one man's search for belief in a fantasy world of dragons and giants. Our pilgrim's incredible journey leads him finally to the West...and into the very heart of C.S. Lewis's most p ...more
Paperback, 211 pages
Published August 1st 1981 by Bantam Books (first published 1933)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Pilgrim's Regress, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Bre Teshendorf I think brown in this sense represents "dark" as is represented by evil, as opposed to literally having brown skin. I hope anyway! I also had to chew…moreI think brown in this sense represents "dark" as is represented by evil, as opposed to literally having brown skin. I hope anyway! I also had to chew on it a bit, wondering if it was meant as an example of a specific cultural group. But I really don't think that can be so, as there is no other cultural reference that might imply it is pointing a finger. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Douglas Wilson
May 18, 2009 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.
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
Jun 13, 2011 Didymus 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
Jun 15, 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
Mike (the Paladin)
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
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
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
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
Feb 04, 2015 MC rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
David Gregg
This is a very meaningful story. I enjoyed it thoroughly and intend to read it again.
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
David Sarkies
Dec 01, 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
Mar 30, 2017 Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable but I do recommend reading this AFTER "Surprised by Joy" by C.S. Lewis and Bunyan's "Pilgrims Progress".
Tori Samar
C.S. Lewis is such an enigma. Within the same book, he can say something that makes you nod your head vigorously in agreement; but then, a few pages later, he can say something that makes you scratch your head in theological confusion or write "No, that's just wrong" in the margins of the book. In this regard, The Pilgrim's Regress is no different.

Here's where this book shines: the overall narrative arc is great. It begins with the protagonist John discovering that a deep desire/longing (for "th
Nathan Albright
May 25, 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
Nelleke Plouffe
I am very aware that there is much more in this book than I understood. Perhaps I will come back to it when I am older.
PJ Wenzel
I have no idea what was going on in this book. Maybe I'll revisit it in a few years...maybe.
Feb 26, 2014 Bob rated it liked it
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
Oct 07, 2013 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
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
Ancient Weaver
Oct 10, 2007 Ancient Weaver 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
Tiffany Huffman
Aug 22, 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

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
Jim B
Sep 09, 2013 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
As often the case with CS Lewis, The Pilgrim's Regress was challenging, but worth the read. Lewis uses the allegory to describe John's (the main character) quest to fulfill his heartfelt desires. Along the way, he encounters many who aim to provide answers. Characters are clever personifications of ideas (enlightenment, reason, virtue and more), each of whom are insufficient to offer the ultimate answer. John's journey parallels Lewis' own personal one, so the book becomes a thorough exploration ...more
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Quotable Lewis
  • The Descent of the Dove
  • The Everlasting Man
  • Lenten Lands: My Childhood with Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis
  • C.S. Lewis: A Biography
  • Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis
  • Through the Shadowlands: The Love Story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman
  • Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves (Spenser's Faerie Queen, #1)
  • The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life
  • Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine
  • The Holy War
  • The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis
  • The Dangerous Duty of Delight: Daring to Make God Your Greatest Desire (LifeChange Books)
  • The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview (5 Volume Set)
  • Christian Mythmakers: C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Charles Williams, Dante Alighieri, John Bunyan, Walter Wangerin, Robert Siegel, and Hannah Hurnard
  • The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Their Friends
  • Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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
More about C.S. Lewis...

Share This Book

“You all know," said the Guide, "that security is mortals' greatest enemy.” 15 likes
“Be sure it is not for nothing that the Landlord has knit our hearts so closely to time and place – to one friend rather than another and one shire more than all the land.” 12 likes
More quotes…