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The Great Divorce

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  120,300 ratings  ·  6,015 reviews

C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is a classic Christian allegorical tale about a bus ride from hell to heaven. An extraordinary meditation upon good and evil, grace and judgment, Lewis’s revolutionary idea in the The Great Divorce is that the gates of Hell are locked from the inside. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis’ The Great Divorce will change the way we t

Kindle Edition, 164 pages
Published (first published 1945)
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Emma Secton Nope, not at all. That's not the C. S. Lewis' style.…moreNope, not at all. That's not the C. S. Lewis' style.(less)
Stephen Archer The Current Publisher is HarperCollins Publishing.
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  120,300 ratings  ·  6,015 reviews

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May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine that you awoke one morning to find yourself wandering the streets of a grimy, gritty little twilit city in the middle of Nowhere.

You meander past endless shuttered and decrepit storefronts advertising nothing anyone would ever possibly want or need... find yourself joining a long queue that is forming in a dark, gloomy side street.

You wait and wait, not knowing for what earthly reason you are there, among a crowd of obnoxious and surly rivals for the front of the line.

Where are we?
Mike (the Paladin)
One of my favorite (if not my favorite) C. S. Lewis works (and I am a C. S. Lewis fan). The insight in this book about God and man's relationship with Him is wonderful.

I suppose that many who read this will already know that I'm a Christian. I won't belabor it, if you're interested I'm happy to discuss if you don't want to I won't push my thoughts on you.

This is a very readable book and while I suppose the Christian aspects will be obvious it is also possible to simply read the book as a novel.
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE reading everything C.S. Lewis. I read this book a few years ago and I couldn't put it down. The section of the book that stands out most to me is when the main character observes a conversation between two people (one who lives in heaven and one who is just visiting to see what it is like). The one who lives in heaven had killed someone while he was living on earth and the person visiting could not believe that the murderer had actually made it to heaven-The visiting man basically decided ...more
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This is my favorite work by C.S. Lewis. I’d give it 8 stars, . . if ‘twer possible.

In it, Lewis reacts to moral relativism (the Marriage of Heaven and Hell) by suggesting that “you cannot take all luggage with you on all journeys; on one journey even your right hand and your right eye may be among the things you have to leave behind.” He astutely notes that the “great divorce” of good and evil is utterly voluntarily. And he does so by conjuring up this simple tale of a bus ride from a ghostly,
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Bad cannot succeed even in being bad as truly as good is good.”

“The Great Divorce” is a didactic novel and the premise though intriguing is not always interesting. Some “ghosts” board a bus in Hell and make their way to a portion of Heaven (although it does not seem to be “in” Heaven proper. What follows are a bunch of conversations that the narrator overhears. As mentioned, the story is didactic in tone, but when Mr. Lewis hits a strong point, it is a kick in the pants. This text is a thinking
Dec 21, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I find myself in a strange place. Everything is unutterably beautiful, unusually large, and disproportionately heavy and rigid. My weight cannot bend the grass, and I cannot lift an apple. Also, I'm semi-transparent now. A blindingly luminescent human figure approaches me.

C. S. LEWIS: Hello there. I'm C. S. Lewis.

ROB: What is this place?

C. S. LEWIS: Why, this is heaven, of course. You can tell because everything here is so Real, and so joyous. The earth you knew was but a collection of dim shado
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again C.S. Lewis shows us how deft he is at cracking open the mysteries of human spirituality and motivation. This book is an allegory for heaven and hell and as he describes each of the characters and how they ultimately choose their eternal reward, we can glimpse a bit of ourselves.

My favorite part is when he describes a woman who has chosen heaven but whose husband refuses to give up the little devil sitting on his shoulder and ultimately chooses to return to hell. The narrator asks how
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
Recommended to booklady by: Lucy
Lewis wrote The Great Divorce in response to William Blake’s famous poem, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Lewis didn't believe such a marriage of good and evil was possible on any level. He wrote, ‘ is not like a pool but like a tree. It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but also from other good. I do not think that all who choose wrong ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cs-lewis, christian
I’m learning that, at least to me, reading Lewis can be a terrifying, dangerous endeavor. Why? Because he will change you and influence you without your realizing it. In all honesty, I had some trouble reading through this at times. I couldn’t get beyond my theological disagreements but have learned to accept the truth he presents without criticism, agree to disagree. I know I’m nothing compared to Lewis, but I believe every person should think for themselves rather than depend on opinions of ot ...more
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!!!!
I just listened to the audio of "The Great Divorce." It was my first reading of this book, and I know there will be many re-readings in my future. I feel a first reading was really just a glimpse of what it will be like to delve into it again and again. First of all, I must say that I adore Lewis's writing style and that his stories really resonate with me. And I know I'm just beginning to touch the surface. I have read Narnia a couple times and I read "The Problem with Pain" last year. I'm eage ...more
Sunshine Rodgers
C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” was puzzling at first. I read and kept waiting for the action. When was the plot going to happen? When is there going to be a turn of events? When is the story going to progress? And all the while I kept thinking about different scenarios and various outcomes the character was going to have to go through or where he would eventually go at the end… but no. This book cannot and should not be predicted. My struggle was my pull to get the story going when it actuality ...more
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Serious Christian readers
I've classified this book on my "Christian life and thought" shelf, which is one of my nonfiction shelves. Technically, one might argue that this is a work of fiction, a made-up narrative that uses the device of a dream vision to supposedly describe places to which no earth-bound human has ever been. But here, as with some of Hawthorne's short stories/essays, the fiction is so message-driven that any dividing line separating it from an essay is thin indeed. It's very much a narrative about ideas ...more
Jakob J.
If heaven and hell are this boring, we're doomed either way. ...more
As a story, this isn’t that amazing, as very little “happens.” As a collection of images about theology, and especially about sin and how it can keep one away from union with God, it is very insightful. Lewis, in my view, provides the best explanations of how heaven works, or more specifically how it can be that a loving God and hell can coexist. The “dwarves in the stable” from The Last Battle are the best depiction of this; reading them I first understood how one could ever choose to reject Go ...more
Cindy Rollins
#theliterarylifepodcast #20for2020reads

This review is for the audiobook. My son introduced me this recording; he listens to it on autoplay. Julian Rhind-Tutt is one of the best narrators I have heard and this book is a perfect place for his talents with so many personalities and characters taking the stage.

We are talking about this book on The Literary Life Podcast. Join us.

May 2020 Review
In this reread much more stuck with me. I could definitely see parallels with Lewis's other works, particularly The Last Battle -- like the Dwarfs that refuse to see the new Narnia, and in Till We Have Faces -- with Orual's possessive love of Psyche. There's a bit of Miracles and Mere Christianity in here too.

I realize now that this one really needs to be treated as a dream, or a thought experiment, in a completely different way than his apologetics, devotional works, or other fic
Abigayle Claire
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mademethink-2
I had a misconception about what this book was actually on, and a dream of Heaven and Hell was not it. It was fascinating the way Lewis demonstrated some strong philosophies and thought-provoking points through the medium of allegory yet again. While he intentionally states that he's not trying to provide an accurate picture of the afterlife, this was still very different from anything I've ever dreamed Heaven and Hell to be like. I enjoyed the story all the more for it being a less traditional ...more
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wonders
Recommended to Mark by: My parish priest
This is one of the cleverest and yet simplest explorations of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory that I have ever read. There is a day trip up from hell, the travellers get off and meet people who have come to talk to them, to help them on their journey. This journey is expressed in all sorts of ways, with one it might be the need to step out into the public gaze when they feel unattractive or unprepared and so to move on from fear and the need for acclaim , for another the need to accept that your unde ...more
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
This was the first of C.S. Lewis' adult fiction that I've read, and I really enjoyed it. I could definitely see George MacDonald's influence on Lewis' writing, and he even shows up as Lewis' guide in the story! Very thought-provoking and much wisdom!

A few of my favorite quotes...

"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done'."

"You cannot love a fellow creature fully till you love God."

"Every na
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost without exception, whatever CS Lewis writes is fine with me. The Great Divorce is my 2nd favorite CS Lewis book (I am not counting the Narnia series), and what I thought was most interesting about it was the people who were in hell did not know they were in hell. This is a familiar concept to me, I remember my dad and his minister friends discussing it. It was also interesting that people didn't get to heaven in the way they thought they would.

Obviously, no one has actual answers for the
I own this edition. Go here to listen to Lewis read his introduction. See here for Joe Rigney on Lewis on Hell.

I do believe that artists have a responsibility to get theology as right as they can, even in their fiction, but I think that there is a significant difference between The Shack and Lewis's The Great Divorce. Whereas Young's novel really seemed to be promoting the theology behind it, The Great Divorce should not be read as proposing the way that Heaven and Hell really are. (Lewis himsel
Kells Next Read
I've finally decided to read through as much C.S. Lewis works as I can and decided to start with The Great Divorce. I was by no means disappointed, in fact my appetite has been aroused and I'm hungry to devour more of this authors works.

Actual ratings 4.25
David Sarkies
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
Lewis on Hell
13 November 2011

Even though he does have some strange ideas, I always enjoy reading a book by C.S. Lewis, and this book is no exception. The Great Divorce is actually an excellent exploration of the nature of heaven and hell and is about a man who finds himself in 'hell'. The this work hell is a huge city that appears empty, and that is because nobody can stand living with anybody else so they constantly move out to the fringes of the city. As such the idea of meeting up with famou
Jacob Aitken

(or how to obtain infinite joy by abandoning your-self)

This book is truly one of Lewis’ masterpieces. Lewis tells a parable of a bus ride from heaven to hell in order to show us why people choose hell. Lewis is not saying that somebody, once in hell, have a chance for “do-overs.” Lewis is showing us why some people, even suffering in hell, when (hypothetically) offered a chance to get out, would still choose hell over heaven.

In this book Lewis comes very close to the ancient Eastern view of the
Laurel Hicks
2016: I always love meeting George Macdonald again. This serious fantasy abounds in humor and understanding of human nature.

2014: In this brief and beautiful allegory, Lewis takes us on a tour of heaven and hell, where we learn about our powers to choose between self and salvation.

This was a great book to read in conjunction with Milton's Paradise Lost.

2013: also a great book to lay alongside Dante's Divine Comedy.
If you found yourself in Hell and then were offered a chance to leave and spend an eternity in Heaven, you'd jump at it, wouldn't you? …….. Or would you …….??

The Great Divorce tells of a journey of souls from the grey town, which we soon see represents Hell, to a wide open space of meadows, rivers and mountains. Yet when the people disembark they are dismayed. They now appears as Ghosts and all the vegetation is dense and tough in a way that makes movement difficult and, at times, dangerous. And
Kailey (Luminous Libro)
Oh my goodness, I'm in shock! I feel like I have been hit with a ton of spiritual bricks; not an uncommon feeling after reading any of Lewis' books. How wonderful! The best part is that no matter what the subject or plot, Lewis always turns the focus back to Christ.

This book reminds me a bit of his book, "Pilgrim's Regress", and John Bunyan's book too. It follows that sort of pattern- wandering in a strange land, meeting allegorical people, having philosophical conversations with angels and men
Clare Cannon
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Adults & Adults
Shelves: adults, young-adult
This little book is too powerful to read only once. It is important to note that it has nothing to do with the impression given by its title - it is not about divorce. It is an allegory about the choices we make during life and where they will take us afterwards, though it is not strictly a 'religious' book. It offers a most startling contrast between the consequences of living for oneself or living for others, of trying to 'look out for number one', or emptying oneself in order to be able to re ...more
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
There are many reviews of this book, so I just make a few sentences of my own observations here:
- reading the "tvtropes" page of this book does help
- the story isn't long, and comfortably easy and quick a read
- preface is essential to read before the main text
- the story gives a nod to many writers Lewis had read (starting with being inspired by William Blake, of course); one early scifi short story is mentioned as an influence, but no one has been able to indentify it by name
- the description o
m a r y l i z
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You cannot love a fellow creature fully till you love God."

Picked this up on a whim last night and couldn't put it down! The fastest I've read a book in months.

In true C.S. Lewis fashion, this book was equal parts cozy comfort read by the fire, cup of tea in hand, and deep philosophical discussion in a university library. Thought-provoking and complex yet approachable in the way only Jack can manage.

The perfect way to start my year. It altered my perspective and gave me a lot to ponder as we a
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Christian Goodrea...: The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis 52 160 Nov 29, 2018 07:07PM  

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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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“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” 1532 likes
“There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.” 653 likes
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