Agonson’s Top 10: The Great Divorce

It has entered my mind to formulate a list of books which have been meaningful to me, both in the pleasure they offer and also in the effect they had. These are books which stand above.

The Great Divorce

I came to this book a little differently than the others. I was desperate for it without knowing. The author was already a favorite of mine, and I was having trouble sleeping. I had seen this rather small book on my dad’s shelf, and I swiped it. I never gave it back, come to think of it. Unable to sleep, I thought I’d read a few pages. I didn’t sleep much that night; I couldn’t put the book down. In it, C. S. Lewis unfolded to me my whole internal struggle.

The book is like a mirror to my soul.

The basic element of the book is that mankind holds on to Hell desperately. In the preface, Lewis sums it up perfectly: 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. From that kernel, Lewis presents characters, damned souls, given a holiday in Heaven. They are told they can stay, but one by one they return to Hell.

It is hard to describe how this book affected me, for in a sense it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know; It made me aware of what I knew. It was, in a sense, the putting together of the puzzle, the right perspective which brought all the parts together.

I am a huge fan of C. S. Lewis, but this book is on a different level than his other works, a perfect blending of theology and narrative, of fiction and truth.

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