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The Great Divorce Paperback – April 21, 2015

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Editorial Reviews Review

The Great Divorce is C.S. Lewis's Divine Comedy: the narrator bears strong resemblance to Lewis (by way of Dante); his Virgil is the fantasy writer George MacDonald; and upon boarding a bus in a nondescript neighborhood, the narrator is taken to Heaven and Hell. The book's primary message is presented with almost oblique tidiness--"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.'" However, the narrator's descriptions of sin and temptation will hit quite close to home for many readers. Lewis has a genius for describing the intricacies of vanity and self-deception, and this book is tremendously persistent in forcing its reader to consider the ultimate consequences of everyday pettiness. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Much deserves to be quoted... attractive imagery, amusing satire, exciting speculations... Lewis rouses curiosity about life after death only to sharpen awareness of this world.” (Guardian)
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Product Details

  • Series: Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; New edition edition (April 21, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060652950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060652951
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (966 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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, when 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 thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

375 of 384 people found the following review helpful By Geekier than thou TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Only C.S. Lewis can write a story like this. A man takes a bus ride through Hell, then Heaven and witnesses the choices made by others in their lives.
The vivid stories within the story show that indecision is still a decision... it underscores the petty things in our lives that we allow to dominate us, things that will still plague us in Hell for eternity if we don't abandon them.
Lewis' concepts (fantasized, of course) of the substance of spirit versus the substance of flesh and blood are incredibly thought provoking. There are mental images I got from reading this book that I will never forget.
It is basic truth - you choose life, you choose death, or you choose not to choose. You will either give up the things that are holding you down (whether they be bitter resentments, anger, material gain, control, etc.) or you will cling to them until they become your master and you their slave.
The book presents these concepts in such a non-threatening way that you've gotten a life lesson that you don't realize until you've finished this short, yet vibrant book.
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181 of 189 people found the following review helpful By Bethany McKinney Fox on May 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Although this book is written as a novella, it contains TONS of thinly disguised theological truths and brain-shaking ideas. This is one of those books where everything means something. Every bit of the scenic description of Heaven and Hell reveals something that Lewis believes to be true about the two places and how people respond to them. Other fascinating things about this book are the fictional characters and seeing how different types of people respond to being in Heaven. There is one man who realizes that now that he is in Heaven, and in the presence of God, he is no longer useful. But he doesn't want to start feeling useless, and so cannot enter the presence of God--because in Heaven God provides for everyone's needs. This book really makes you contemplate whether Christianity is more about the journey or the destination. It's entertaining and full of wisdom, and is a must-read.
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125 of 134 people found the following review helpful By NotATameLion on January 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Some folks only know Beethoven for his 9th symphony. Some folks only know C.S. Lewis for one of his "greater" works. (Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia etc..) What a loss. Anyone who has read any C.S. Lewis should make the time over the course of their lives to read THIS C.S. Lewis. I loved this book. No writer in the twentieth century ever hit the nail more directly on the head when dealing with human nature than did Clive Staples Lewis. This book is a perfect example of his talent in this area. Not even the Screwtape Letters did it better. I heartily recommend this book to all readers.
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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Stingyjack on July 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
I don't think Lewis meant to "preach to the choir." He knows that many fine people deny Christianity because they think its a naive and silly belief. Lewis understands the skeptics mind and speaks directly to it. He isn't an entrenched, Christian Theologian, he is a normal man who speaks planely. In fact he almost always prefaces his books by downplaying his own knowledge of Christian Theology. This make Lewis very approachable, yet intellectually sound.
Unlike the other reviewers, I am not a Christian and I have read and enjoyed this book. Lewis was a die-hard ATHEIST before he became christian. He was a brilliant intellectual and made the leap of faith, not because he got hit on the head, but because he objectively analyzed the Bible. His background alone puts me immediatley at ease when I read him. He won't try to manipulate the facts to push you toward Christ. He just lays down his ideas, with nothing up his sleaves and lets you make of it what you will. Unlike many Christian apologists, he knows that you can't be forced into Christianity (God Knows Many Have Tried).
Skeptics, myself included, should read at least some of Lewis. I suggest Mere Christianity as a primer and then The Great Divorce. If you are a responsible intellectual, unsatisfied with other "Christian" apologies, and looking for concrete answers concerning the Christian Faith, it would be foolish to ignore Lewis.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
The brilliance of "The Great Divorce" is Lewis' focus on the spiritual aspects of Heaven and Hell and not just the literal aspects. The very day I became a Christian, the thought entered my mind that the very worst things about Hell had to be the absence of love and the absence of Christ. That was as far as my thinking went. Lewis took me much further with this book-- The lustful man lives in a kind of Hell already. The woman with a forgiving and humble heart lives in a kind of Heaven already. In the Bible, believers are described as already seated with Christ in Heavenly places-- spiritually, they have already arrived at their eternal destination. The converse is true of unbelievers. They dwell in the dark shadows of the underworld-- willingly without love and without Christ, burning in the flames of their own selfishness. An excellent read!! Lewis mentions his predecessor, George MacDonald, in "The Great Divorce." I have read that Lewis derived much of his theology from MacDonald's interpretations. I recommend MacDonald's book "Phantastes," the very book which Lewis partly credits for his conversion. I also recommend highly, and I do mean highly "Castle of Wisdom" by Rhett Ellis.
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