The Great Divorce 

by C. S. Lewis

 

C. S. Lewis, in his short novel The Great Divorce, presents us with a compelling picture of the afterlife and how the choices we make while living might affect our destination when life ends. The book explores the divide between good and evil, questioning whether the two can be reconciled. It is a response to the question raised by William Blake, is a marriage between Heaven and Hell possible? It is not surprising that Lewis answers decisively in the negative.


The picture Lewis draws for us presents many individuals who have made specific choices in life, and speculates about how those choices might play themselves out after death. Following the example of Dante's Divine Comedy, Lewis chooses a faithful guide as he makes his tour into heaven, the author George MacDonald, Lewis's long-time hero of the faith (and a literary hero too). Before heading into the divine kingdom, though, he makes his way through the grey realms of hell. The distinction between the two places couldn't be more stark.


The Great Divorce has its literary weakness (particularly the end), but the ideas it presents aren't to be rivaled. It's a fun read, and very thought-provoking. It's should be a must-read on the list of every Christian reader.

 

Reviewed by Shelly Bryant © 2010