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The Pilgrim's Regress

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  3,924 ratings  ·  210 reviews
The first book written by C.S. Lewis after his conversion, The Pilgrim's Regress is the record of Lewis's own search for meaning and spiritual satisfaction, a search that eventually led him to Christianity. This brilliant, Bunyanesque allegory tells a fascinating story and constitutes an effective Christian apologia.
Paperback, 250 pages
Published 1977 by Collins (first published 1933)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Erin
Jun 23, 2009 Erin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Amanda
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
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
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
David Gregg
This is a very meaningful story. I enjoyed it thoroughly and intend to read it again.
Bart Breen
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
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
Edu
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
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
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
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
Ian
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
John
I think this was the first book C.S. Lewis wrote as a Christian; certainly one of his earlier works.
The title, of course, pays homage to John Bunyan's classic "The Pilgrim's Progress." The main character is named John, and the style follows Bunyan's format. The author dreams about his main character's journey, which takes him from sin and ignorance to salvation and truth. The issues, of course, were different in the early 1930s -- when this was written -- than they were in Bunyan's time. So this
...more
Tommy Grooms
I didn't really know what to expect going in with this book. The idea of an allegorical story to me always seemed lazy and annoying (due no doubt in part to my Tolkienien resistance to dominant authors). The closest thing I've read to a true allegorical tale like this one is the Chronicles of Narnia, but even then the difference in form is clear - it's not merely that Aslan resembles Jesus, but that each character is named after the abstraction he or she embodies. But these characters feel tangi ...more
Amy
Love, love, love!!! I wasn't sure what to expect of The Pilgrim's Regress. Allegories? What do I know of those? Would it take a translator to make sense? Far from it, though, this book made sense. It was really enjoyable, and though this is not my favorite by him, C.S. Lewis has rocked my world again with another excellent book.
Sally
I would have given this book five stars, but I'm too dumb to fully appreciate it. Written in the style of "The Great Divorce", this book tells a simple enough story--a traveler on his way--but it is laden with symbolism and deeper meaning, much of which no doubt escaped me. What I did comprehend was wonderful, though! I loved the presentation of God as the Landlord, giving the people pictures and rules to woo them to Himself. I completely identify with John's piercingly sweet vision of the islan ...more
Leah Griffin
Aug 31, 2007 Leah Griffin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes
I found this book a little harder to get into than other books by Lewis. It was fashioned after the Pilgrims Progress. It has some good allegory, but does not capture the imagination as well as his other books do.
The illustrations are awesome.
Seth Holler
Bunyan's Progress was the last book I read, and the appeal of Regress is very different, and more limited. Lewis's allegory is more intellectual than moral, though both books are finally moralistic. I would have misread numerous passages if not for this web page: http://www.lewisiana.nl/regressquotes. The Kindle edition, just released, is very good. So is Simon Vance's audiobook, though as always the emphasis is occasionally mislaid.

Highlights: the sudden multiplication of the brown girls, Lewis
...more
Terri
This book went a great deal over my head. I found most of the allegorical concepts where hard to understand. I would recommend, Surprised by Joy, CS Lewis autobiography as a prerequisite to this.
Deb W
I finished the third edition of "Pilgrim's Regress," by C.S. Lewis this morning. I state the 3rd edition because it includes an Afterward from Lewis describing his remarks after re-reading it ten years after its original publication. It was interesting to me that he found it "unnecessarily obscure" as I did. (Don't we all just LOVE being validated?)

Goodreads lists the book's original title as: "The Pilgrim's Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity Reason and Romanticism." After reading
...more
Bob
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
Megan Larson
This was not Lewis' best work, but its lacks can be understood in light of what else we know of him. First, he wrote it as a brand new Christian, having rejected worldly philosophy but not having lived much of the Christian life yet. Having read his later work, Surprised by Joy, I recognized many autobiographical elements relating to his own philosophical journey away from Christianity, and then back toward it. However, there were other elements I did not recognize, which seemed to be an attempt ...more
Perelandra
Lewis presents a generalized allegory of his life from various other world views to Christianity. He does this in a style similar to John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, which probably goes without saying. There is a focus on "an island" which creates an indescribable longing within the main character, John. He sees it once at a distance, and spends the walk of his life trying to "get there" meaning that he tries different philosophies trying to acquire this object of indescribable desire. He t ...more
Andre
As Lewis describes in the Preface, the book has an arrogant and authoritative tone. His writing is detailed and colorful, but there is no emotive attachment to the characters. Granted, the book is written as an account of a dream, yet still there are many parts, which do not seem necessary. There is an extreme complexity to the book, with many references to other philosophers, ideas, and scriptures. So, perhaps, I did not devote the appropriate effort into the work. That being said, I struggled ...more
Ellen
Once again I am faced with the reality that C.S. Lewis was a very, very smart man whose deeply philosophical, highly logical brand of apologetics leaves my head spinning. Once again, I read the book wishing that I had some kind of study guide to help me break it down. Even so, I do feel just a bit richer for having read it.

Pilgrim's Regress is Lewis's "modern" take on the classic Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. Like Bunyan's version, it is highly symbolic and allegorical. In both cases there
...more
Zachary
This book helped me to gain a better understanding of how God brings people to Himself: personally. Everybody who comes to God follows a different path. That is, of course, not to say, that there are many paths to God; there is only one way: Jesus. But, Jesus brings everybody to Himself in a different way, because everybody is different, brings different baggage to the table, has a different way of looking at things. For instance, I am a very intellectual sort of guy, when I accepted Christ as m ...more
Justin Deckert
As books by CS Lewis go this is obviously one of his first. I do not want to detract any amount of brilliance from this book, but I have to say it was jumbled together quite voraciously and lost me at several turns. Overall I am glad to have read this book as it is an ode to the foundation of many of Lewis' Theses in his following books.

This Allegory is a modern and objective look at the Christian journey. It's parallel is obviously A Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan, which I have not read in e
...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in October 2001.

Lewis' earliest novel gives fullest reign to the allegorical impulse which was to form an important part of all his fictional writing. Intended to be a The Pilgrim's Progress for the twentieth century, the story of his central character John mimics Lewis' own spiritual journey from the dry church of his childhood to a personal Christian faith. (Even without confirmation from the later foreword, the autobiographical element should be clear to a
...more
Noah
A really rather amazing book although at first I found it rather mediocre. I was very much taken by John's yearning and his reasons for beginning his travels but I was not impressed with the first few sections of allegory. This may be because they were more heavily satirical than the later sections (which were more discursive), although this says more, perhaps, about my own dislike of satire than Lewis' work. At first I wondered whether Lewis' choice to make his conversion, experiences and conce ...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
More about C.S. Lewis...
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1) The Chronicles of Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia, #1-7) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3) The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #6) Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia, #2)

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“You all know," said the Guide, "that security is mortals' greatest enemy.” 11 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.” 9 likes
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