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The Pilgrim's Regress

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  7,279 ratings  ·  491 reviews

The first book written by C. S. Lewis after his conversion, The Pilgrim's Regress is, in a sense, the record of Lewis s own search for meaning and spiritual satisfaction—a search that eventually led him to Christianity.

Here is the story of the pilgrim John and his odyssey to an enchanting island which has created in him an intense longing—a mysterious, sweet desire. John s

Paperback, 219 pages
Published January 10th 1992 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published 1933)
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Bre Teschendorf 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)

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Douglas Wilson
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: satire, theology
Excellent. Finished the audio version in February 2016. In the Afterword, Lewis apologizes for the book, an apology I refuse to accept. Just delightful.
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
C.S. Lewis is mostly known for his Narnia Chronicles. Some of us are also familiar with his Science Fiction Trilogy. Then there is the bulk of his work that fall under the genre apologetics.

I've read most of Lewis' work but I had not read the Pilgrim's Regress before. He wrote it shortly after he became a Christian and it is interesting in its insight into one man's conversion experience and also as a comparison to his later works.

Inspired by John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Lewis wrote his wor
Jacob Aitken
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book described Lewis' conversion to Christianity using an allegory. Theme: beware of the desiring of the very desiring. 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 respectabl ...more
Matthew Richey
Having had two aborted attempts with this one, I went in for a third try not expecting much of it but came through pleasantly surprised. This is a little less accessible than most of his fiction without knowing Lewis' intellectual world so having read much on Lewis in recent months probably helped give me a greater appreciation for it.

Basically this is a retelling of Pilgrim's Progress but in Lewis' world instead of Bunyan's in an allegorical autobiography of sorts. Interesting and insightful in
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
Thom Willis
Jun 13, 2011 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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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
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
G.M. Burrow
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, inklings
The faults I found with this book are the same ones Lewis lamented over after he wrote it, so no point jumping up and down on them. It's overly allegorical and dense and complicated, that's all. I found it super helpful that I had read almost everything Lewis had ever wrote before tackling this. I was able to recognize some of his favorite themes rather pedantically stuffed into the story. What I did love was all the Sehnsucht. Whenever you lose track of what John is up to, remember he is trying ...more
Shawn Paterson
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"[Mother Kirk's] empire is always crumbling. But it never quite crumbles: for as often as men become Pagans again, the Landlord again sends them pictures and stirs up sweet desire and so leads them back to Mother Kirk even as he led the actual Pagans long ago. There is, indeed, no other way."
Amy Hansen
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book, though I think I’d have to be better educated than I am to get all of it. (As it was having a husband who speaks Latin was very helpful) The parts where my education was sufficient, however, were really enjoyable. One could think of this book as a pre- Surprised by Joy where he is trying to be more general (not account his specific experience, but tell a relatable conversion story) There were some particularly insightful descriptions an comments at the end of the book. If ...more
Vagabond of Letters, DLitt
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Brilliant, but with a lacking ending. Makes me want to read Bunyan, Dante, and Goethe again.

Read this book if you have any interest in philosophy-as-life or religion.
Brice Karickhoff
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Though they lay flat the mountains and dry up the sea, Wilt thou yet change, as though God were a god?”

That line of poetry, along with many others in the closing book (this book is made up of 10 books), really sums up the story of Pilgrims Regress. It is probably among the top 5 books I’ve read by Lewis, and I’m slowly closing in on having read all ~30 of them. This book tells an allegorical tale of a man named John traveling towards the Island in the West. The allegory is that John is CS Lewis
Keturah Lamb
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*Listened to audio book*

A definite allegory with very much of a mythical feel. I love how the author writes as if he dreamed the story. At first when I saw the main character was named John I thought that might be a reference to John Bunyan as the story is obviously a play on John Bunyan's Pilgrim Progress, but the way the story rolled, it actually reminded me more of the John in revelations. Maybe that was just because Revelations is also a dream and John is the writer of that.

I listened to th
Lancelot Schaubert
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-lewis-list
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.
David Sarkies
Dec 01, 2014 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
Vanessa Chesebro
Jul 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Obscure. Lots of latin. Not his best work, but I’ve heard it referenced so often I wanted to read. I could see the beginnings of some of his arguments and plots in sections.
Jon R. Jordan
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Reading note:
I recommend beginning with the Afterword. Your milage may vary, but in it Lewis addresses many of the concerns you may have with the book itself.

Book note:
Lewis allegorizes his own conversion experience in an attempt to generalize for a wider audience much of what he experienced being drawn to the faith. Cultural and intellectual commentary abounds, but I found the real beauty of the book in its portrayal of the Church, Baptism, and conversion.
Bart Breen
May 24, 2012 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
M. J.
Apr 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Feb 04, 2015 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
Muslim Alinizi
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I hesitated on my rating I am a novice reader but a staunch C.S Lewis fan. Having been the first book he ever wrote I understand that this might have been somewhat hard for him to write and received a lot of criticism in 1940's rapidly growing atheist population. The beginning of the Book is great however and allegorically speaking it was still good, the end was slow I felt like I really was on a regress with John. I would like to point out that the seemingly "racist" attitude of C.S Lewis that ...more
Jake McAtee
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was not expecting this to be great, and I was put to shame. I knew this was his first book published as a Christian and had low expectations. Barfield's claim that what Lewis thought about everything was contained in what he said about anything, is no where truer than here. Several times I was reading and could write out to the margin of one single paragraph themes to be picked up later in Weight of Glory, Transposition, Till We Have Faces, The Silver Chair, and so on. Lewis was wise and you c ...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
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Interesting story showing how Lewis progressed intellectually and eventually came to faith.
Bre Teschendorf
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I feel like I don't know how to rate this book because it felt like it was beyond my intellectual grasping so how could I say, "Yes, it was spot on..." or "His contentions were lacking..."? Normally what I love about C.S. Lewis is his ability to make "high-intellectual-ideas" accessible to even the likes of me. But I don't think it would be fair to say that just because this book was out of my league in many ways, that it therefore wasn't good.

I know that whilst reading it I had several really
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Clive Staples Lewis 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

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