Saraelizabeth's Reviews > The Pilgrim's Regress

The Pilgrim's Regress by C.S. Lewis
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's review
Apr 03, 2012

did not like it
Read in April, 2012

So I decided to read this after Joe piqued my interest in it. I'm sad that I didn't like it. I honestly can't believe I'm giving a book by C.S.Lewis 1 star!

Pilgrim's Regress is essentially an allegorical journey of a man's search for truth. It describes many philosophies present at Lewis's time and their flaws and dangers. It leads the pilgrim to Christianity and then he "regresses" back the way he came, this time following the "straight and narrow" path to avoid the dangers and distractions. It follows Lewis's own path to becoming a Christian.

The bad:

First of all, I couldn't understand most of the book. I think there were two reasons for this:
1- You need a thorough knowledge of the philosophies, sophistries, psychologies, and theologies of the 1920s and 30s. If you don't have that, you will spend a lot of time going "WHAAT?" like I did.
I recognize that is my lack, not Lewis's.
2- Second, I could rarely understand what Lewis's allegorical symbols were supposed to represent.

Lewis even realized this flaw in his allegory. In his afterword, he said that on rereading it 10 years after writing it, he found the chief flaw to be "needless obscurity".
He also said that the purpose of an allegory is "not to hide but to reveal; to make the inner world more palpable by giving it an (imagined) concrete embodiment."
This wasn't achieved with Pilgrim's Regress.

I think my other issue while reading it was that I was hoping for something like Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyan. While Bunyan's allegory has stood the test of time because it "reveals" like a good allegory should, and it speaks to humanity of any age; Lewis's allegory was very specific to his time and only confused the reader with its symbols.

In Lewis's other works, his reasoning and argument are so sound that I think he would have better expressed his views of the current philosophies if he had written in his usual prose form.

The good:
There were good lines here and there, even a page here and there that spoke wonderful truths.
Also, he had some wonderful things to say about the dangers of extremity. If the pilgrim went too far north, he went to Marxist land. Too far south, hedonism and mysticism. When he found Christianity and the narrow way, it went right down the middle. On the North side of the straight and narrow were rocks, while swamp was on the south side-both ready to destroy him.

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message 1: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Well, sorry you didn't like it. This was my first Lewis book and I didn't read him for years as a consequence of it obscurity. Ha ha! Anyway, now you should redeem Lewis by reading Till We Have Faces...

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