I have signed up for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2020, hosted by Karen from Books and Chocolate blog.
The Great Divorce is my sixth book in this challenge.
What Amazon says
A stunning new edition of this timeless allegory of heaven and hell, repackaged and rebranded as part of the C.S. Lewis Signature Classics range. C.S. Lewis’s dazzling allegory about heaven and hell and the chasm fixed between them, is one of his most brilliantly imaginative tales which will appeal to readers of all ages. Lewis communicates deep spiritual truths through the sheer power of the fantastic. In The Great Divorce the writer in a dream boards a bus on a drizzly afternoon and embarks on an incredible voyage through Heaven and Hell. He meets a host of supernatural beings far removed from his expectations and comes to significant realisations about the ultimate consequences of everyday behaviour. This is the starting point for a profound meditation upon good and evil. “If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”
I really enjoyed this classic book by C.S. Lewis. This shortish novel is about a man, the narrator, who finds himself in a rainy grey town. After looking around this miserable town, he eventually finds himself at a bus stop where he joins a long queue of people waiting for a bus. He has no idea of the destination of the bus he is waiting for, but he is pleased that the line grows progressively shorter as many of his potential fellow passengers get tried of waiting and leave the line.
The bus finally arrives and the narrator, together with the remaining passengers, board and start their strange journey. The bus leaves the ground and travels up and up, eventually rising above the rain clouds and arriving in a beautiful country just before dawn. On arrival, the passengers discover that they have lost their solid form during the trip and become pale and wispy shadows of themselves. They are ghosts.
When they disembark from the bus they quickly discover that everything in this new land, from each blade of grass, to the water and the trees, is solid while they are shadowy and ghostlike. The ghosts cannot walk on the grass without hurting their feet and are not able to lift even a fallen apple as everything is immeasurably heavy.
A group of shining and lovely people meet the travelers and it soon becomes apparent that the ghosts are on the outskirts of Heaven having traveled from Hell where they have been since their deaths. The people are there to encourage them to repent their sins and guide them to Heaven.
The narrator meets up with the spirit of a fellow writer, George MacDonald, who announces that he is the narrator’s mentor and will help guide him to Heaven. Together they witness a few of the other ghosts encounters with their mentors.
I thought C.S. Lewis’ depiction of Heaven and Hell were hugely imaginative and embraced the idea that sin is essentially the preoccupation with one’s self and the refusal to forfeit your ego in order to find love and happiness. It made me think of how I have discovered that if you want to enjoy real happiness on this earth, you need to look outside of yourself and your own needs and embrace others, giving them support both emotionally and physically. This act of looking outwards is the essence of caring and loving others.
This book also highlights the fact that the things that are admired and sort after by men during their earthly lives, such as money, power and fame, are not the things that really matter and grow us as spiritual beings. Love, kindness and caring are the things that really count in this life.
If you would like to read a book that makes you think and delve deeply into your own thoughts about spirituality and the man-made concepts of Heaven and Hell, I highly recommend this book.