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 the-great-divorceTitlu: The Great Divorce

Autor: C.S. Lewis
San Francisco
Editură: HarperOne
Anul apariţiei: 1945 (prima ediție), 2002 (ediția folosită)
ISBN: 0-02-570550-4 (prima ediție)

Recenzie de Valentin Teodorescu

The Great Divorce is in a sense C.S. Lewis ‘retort’ to Blake’s book: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. In the ‘Preface’ to his book, C.S. Lewis rejects the modern idea that somehow ‘the reality never presents us with an absolutely unavoidable ‘either-or’; that granted skill and patience and time enough, some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found;’ and that ‘mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil in good’.[1] On the contrary, C.S. Lewis considers that between good and evil there is a continuous opposition and that in our world ‘every road, after a few miles forks in two, each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision’[2]. Not all who choose the wrong roads perish, but if they want to be rescued, they ought to being put back on the right path; that means they should go back to their error and to continue going on the correct path from that point. In that sense, between Heaven and Hell is a great separation or ‘a great divorce’. C.S. Lewis doesn’t consider, like Hegel that there is always a good and necessary negativity. On the contrary, ‘if we insist on keeping Hell (or 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’[3].

In other words, one of the main ideas of the author is that our choices really matter, that we have a tremendous responsibility; everything in this world costs. In the chapter 9 of his book, C.S. Lewis has a dialogue with George Mac Donald, his spiritual mentor, in which it is given to us a reason why some people choose the wrong· path: ‘better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven’. Augustine said in The City of God that there are just two kind of people: some who love themselves more than everything else, and some who love God more than everything else. In the same sense, George Mac Donald, the ‘Teacher’, explains to the author that ‘there are only two kind of people in the end: those who say to God ‘Thy will be done’ and those whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’.’[4]

In different ways, all the dialogues of the book describe, with only one exception, peoples who choose the path of pride and. selfishness, preferring to better reign in Hell than serve in Heaven, because they love themselves more than everything else. One of them is characterized by self-righteousness, refusing the grace of God; a liberal theologian prefers the ‘dynamic’ theological speculation in Hell to the absolute and perfect revelation of Truth in Heaven; a mother and a lover turn their natural affections in false gods instead of really loving the others, and so on; at the origin of all these attitudes which continuous devour their victims is the same sin: selfishness or pride.

[1] C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Harper San Francisco, 2002, pg. vii.

[2] Idem, pg. viii.

[3] Idem.

[4] Idem, pg. 75.

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