On Monday, Nov 10th, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ novella, The Great Divorce. I rank this among the best of Lewis’ fiction and one of his richest thought experiments. Though not one of his bestsellers, I think The Great Divorce will become his Cinderella book–the one we keep returning to again and again to find new treasures. And as we return again, I suspect we will be continually surprised.
On Nov 10th, 1944, “The Grand Divorce, or Who Goes Home?” began in the weekly church paper, The Guardian. This obscure little newspaper actually launched Lewis’ career as a public intellectual in 1941 when it began printing The Screwtape Letters. Week by week, demand for Lewis’ (anti-)spiritual advice grew as copies of The Guardian became scarce. Before long Lewis had a book contract, a BBC schedule, and an audience he could never have imagined.
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It is ironic that Lewis has Macdonald say “I’ll have no Swedenborg… among my children.” when the entire book is set in a thoroughly Swedenborgian conception of the intermediate state. (Albert Gralle in the recent GETTING INTO HEAVEN AND OUT AGAIN acknowledges Lewis’ inspiration for his own work.)