In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis's classic vision of the Afterworld, the narrator boards a bus on a drizzly English 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 some significant realizations about the nature of good and evil.
"These two short works by Lewis are a fine introduction to his eloquent writing, as well as his thought....Robert Whitfield's disciplined and well-modulated voice has an appealingly confident quality." (AudioFile)
IMHO, TGD is Lewis' Best Work of Fiction
It is amazing that such a short work of fiction such as "The Great Divorce" can offer such tremendous insights into not only human nature, but also the question of "How can a loving God allow the existence of hell".
I was absolutely blown away by this book when I was in my late teens/early twenties and now over twenty years later, it remains my favorite among Lewis' works of fiction and still ranks as one of the best 10 books I've ever read.
Lewis' portrayal of hell is extremely fascinating, and in many ways unique, but the strength of the book, in my opinion, is the interaction between the ghosts (redeemed saints) and their former acquaintances from their days of life on earth.
The three that stick most in my mind are the interactions of a murder victim with his murderer (with their present residences a reverse of what you would think), the discussion between two theologians who have come to very different perspectives, and a conversation with a mother who wrestles with forgiving God for the death of her young child.
Besides being Lewis' best work of fiction, I also believe TGD is one of his most accessible among his works of fiction intended for adults.
I cannot recommend "The Great Divorce" highly enough. While having "The Abolition of Man" is a great bonus, TGD is worth the price in and of itself.
43 people found this helpful
Two great (but quite different) gems from CSL
"The Great Divorce" is an unfortunate title for our modern ears. It is a Dante-esque fantasy about a man's journey to Purgatory and/or Hell and then to the beginnings of Heaven. The title comes as a counter to the mistaken assertion that there is a possiblity of the marriage of Heaven and Hell. The narrator meets with several types of sinner and witnesses their encounters with angelic beings who give them every chance and encouragement to enter into heaven. Lewis (who is the narrator it would seem) meets up with his spiritual mentor (George MacDonald) and converses with him. How many of us hope that when our turn comes, C.S. Lewis will be there waiting for us?
"The Abolition of Man" is a short, pithy, brilliant work, originally lectures, on the natural law and its necessity for good living. It is a pleasure to read/hear such solid, jargon-free prose expressing clearly and without dumbing-down such important ideas.
Robert Whitfield, as usual, reads with clarity and elegance.
49 people found this helpful
- Ranger C-NM
The Great Divorce was absolutely fascinating and held my attention to the very end. I loved the reader and the content challenged my traditional ideas about eternity. Great book. The Abolition of Man was a little weighty for me however. More philosophical than I care for.
8 people found this helpful
This book was fantastic for those seeking an interesting, though admittedly not 100% original, view on the afterlife and what happens, and ultimately what choices we have in the eternal destination of our souls.
I found the narrator to be wonderful and clear to understand while giving the reading an authenticity brought on wholly by the fact that he had an English accent.
I am apparently easily pleased in the arena of authenticity.
Anyway, this was a fun and informative and thought provoking listen and I whole heartedly recommend it to anyone that is interested in heaven, C.S. Lewis, Hell or any of the above.
7 people found this helpful
- Ivan Moncure
C.S. Lewis has a graceful way of illustrating complex truths in an understandable manner. Lewis has a unique insight into the human condition. This book is a quick and entertaining listen, and imparts wisdom that lasts for eternity.
6 people found this helpful
Good short listen
Hard to go wrong with C.S. Lewis, and this is no exception. His writing is clean, and simple, but beautifully descriptive. The story unfolds quickly, but even though the puzzle of the "what is going on here" is solved within only a few chapters, the subsequent development is even more intriguing. It's on read/hearing the works of an author like this (as opposed to a modern churner-out-of-chatter) that one experiences just how powerful words can be.
Only two criticisms drop the rating by one star; both minor. First; the narrator is extremely good, but his rendition of the bright ones was sometimes a bit too sombre for my liking. Having read the book years ago, I pictured those people as being of the type who wouldn't even know the meaning of the word "sombre". Second; well, the Scots character was just too "hoots mon, och aye" for me. But that's because I'm a Scot. If you didn't mind Scottie in "Star Trek", you won't mind this guy either.
Either way, it doesn't matter. The words, and the story overwhelm these minor quibbles. Highly recommended.
5 people found this helpful
A couple more stimulating Lewis reads
Both of these books are excellent, and I loved the reading of them. "Abolition" deals with man's desire to step beyond the Creator's design and create "new" laws of nature. As Lewis points out, this must inevitably lead to the dehumanization of mankind.
IN "The Great Divorce," Lewis once again creates a masterful allegory and challenges us to consider that each decision made in this life has eternal consequences.
I highly recommend this audio book to anyone looking for a few hours of the deep and stimulating reading we've come to expect from C.S. Lewis.
5 people found this helpful
- Tom Ewald
Incredible Reader for a Great Book
I read "The Great Divorce" many years ago. I just finished listening to this recording of it, and I can't imagine how anyone could do a better job of reading it. My being a Lewis fan makes me critical of those who try to interpret him; this reading is incredible.
11 people found this helpful
Pleasure to listen to
The narrator made a good book better capturing the particularities of the book's various characters from the woman who talked endlessly to the Scottish accent of George MacDonald. In the end I am left with the feeling that Hell is filled with post WWII British people.
The book's contents itself gives one plenty of food for thought and a desire to learn more about the Grey town and the country where the grass hurts the newly arrived's feet.
3 people found this helpful
- Nick G
For all times
If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, these two short works are a great reiteration of his beliefs regarding traditional morality, the afterlife, and the basis of ethics. The Great Divorce is in the style of an extended analogy and is actually littlw harder to follow than the more straightforward Abolition of Man. If you are at all concerned about the moral relativism that has creeped into the thought of both the academy and the common man in the West in the last two generations, then the Abolion of Man is a must listen for debunking that ideology. Brilliant as always and very well read, these two short masterpieces are the essence of Lewis.
3 people found this helpful
- Xander Duffy
A Powerful argument in defense of Objective Value.
the Abolition of Man is a difficult work, but rewards those who commit to trying to understand the importance of formal education as a key feature towards the moral education of the individual. And how that system can be used as a tool to instil a love towards Objective Values, such as The Good, The True, and the Beautiful, or can be used as a method of political or philosophical, and psychological conditioning, where essential humans conquest over nature, turns out to be some men in control of other men, conditioning them from the youngest age, even at the genetic level, to be what the conditioners decide. this is a startling, frank, sober, and prophetic in its insight into cultural trends, and the consequences entailed in rejecting Objective Values.
2 people found this helpful
Would you listen to The Abolition of Man & The Great Divorce again? Why?
Possibly.. it took me quite a while to get into the main Audiobook called "The Great Divorce", which is an allegory about the ghosts of people who had died, and who had to decide whether they were willing to let go of bitterness, hatred. resentment, unwillingness to believe in the possibility of there being a much better life-after-death with a Creator God who loved us them and cares very deeply for them. Or whether they thought it was all a load of rubbish, and that they will carry on living the type of existence they lived before they died, just doing their own thing, hurting other people and basically doing whatever they felt made "Me" happy. Hence "The Great Divorce" between those who believed in a much better After Life with a Creator God that deeply loves them and desires an intimate relationship with them AND THOSE who believe that once they died NOTHING exciting happened and they're no better off or worse off before they died."The Abolition of Man" is a long lecture that basically believes that we need to be at peace with nature and not try to damage or deface it, that there's a General & Spiritual Law in operation that governs the whole universe, and us trying to go against it or defacing nature WILL ONLY IN THE END RESULT in "The Abolition of Man [i.e. Human Beings], as we do NEED NATURE (I.e. Trees, Animals, Flowers, Bees etc ) as much as it needs us AND we are all interdependent on one another - A VERY HEAVY GOING DISCOURSE!!
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Abolition of Man & The Great Divorce?
In "The Abolition of Man", I was very pleasantly surprised when I realised that all the people that tried to board a bus and also those who boarded it were the ghosts of people who had died (although a number of them were unaware they were dead until much later!)
Which scene did you most enjoy?
"The Great Divorce": The scene where a ghost was in the Halfway Place to Paradise, was unwilling to let go of his pet sins and habits, did NOT want to go up to Paradise BUT was determined to pick and take back down to his Grey World [in this allegory, HELL was a mindset that people had imprisoned themselves in and could not and would not get out of it because they'd got used to it and it gave them FAISE SECURITY that all was well] a delicious fruit from the Halfway World, even if it killed him in the process. [though theoretically he could not die, but would ONLY puff and strain trying to get the delicious fruit to his world!].
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
"The Great Divorce" - I was quite moved by the scene of an unknown lady from the other world (i.e. a lady who had died and was not a particular famous or outstanding personality in any way in our world)) known as Sarah Smith who had lived in Golders Green and was NOW IN THE HALFWAY PLACE, where she was an extremely radiant, BEAUTIFUL LADY & ROYALTY, who was being attended by a wonderful array of talking birds, animals and trees going before and after her, singing about her and HOW SHE HAD OVERCOME GREAT ADVERSITY AND ILLNESSES AND HEARTACHES and could no longer be touched by such things as illnesses & sorrow even IF THEY WANTED TO. because she KNEW SHE BELONGED TO The Creator God WHO loved her so much, cared for her so much, forgave all her "past sins" and misdeavours and SET HER FREE TO TRULY LIVE.
2 people found this helpful
- David Leitnick
A joy to read & listen to
The Abolition of Man works as a good antidote to Postmodernist fraud that has hegemony in universities across the world.
1 person found this helpful