Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Great Divorce

Our January selection is The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.

The title is in reference to Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. While Blake believed that the material world and our physical desires are part of the divine order, thus marrying heaven and hell, Lewis describes the divorce between the two.

The Great Divorce is an allegorical study of the psychological difference between the heaven-bound soul and the hell-bound soul.

It begins with the narrator (presumably Lewis) finding himself in a "grey town", a place devoid of joy and colour. The grey town symbolizes hell, and the inhabitants are granted a sort of vacation. They board a train to travel to paradise, and it is on their journey that they discover that they are ghosts, lacking a physical body.

Paradise turns out to be physical and material, but it is painful to the damned souls. The blades of grass are too hard to walk upon, and the leaves are too heavy for them to lift. They are invited to enter paradise properly, presumably through some sort of repentance process. Some accept. Some don't.

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