Read Pilgrim's Regress by C.S. Lewis Online


The first book written by C. S. Lewis after his conversion,The Pilgrim s Regress is, in a sense, the record of Lewis s own search for meaning and spiritual satisfaction—a search that eventually led him to Christianity.Here is the story of the pilgrim John and his odyssey to an enchanting island which has created in him an intense longing—a mysterious, sweet desire. John sThe first book written by C. S. Lewis after his conversion,The Pilgrim s Regress is, in a sense, the record of Lewis s own search for meaning and spiritual satisfaction—a search that eventually led him to Christianity.Here is the story of the pilgrim John and his odyssey to an enchanting island which has created in him an intense longing—a mysterious, sweet desire. John s pursuit of this desire takes him through adventures with such people as Mr. Enlightenment, Media Halfways, Mr. Mammon, Mother Kirk, Mr. Sensible, and Mr. Humanist and through such cities as Thrill and Eschropolis as well as the Valley of Humiliation. Though the dragons and giants here are different from those in Bunyan s Pilgrim s Progress, Lewis s allegory performs the same function of enabling the author to say simply and through fantasy what would otherwise have demanded a full-length philosophy of religion....

Title : Pilgrim's Regress
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ISBN : 9780786197644
Format Type : Audio CD
Number of Pages : 6 Pages
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Pilgrim's Regress Reviews

  • Douglas Wilson
    2019-01-21 15:41

    Excellent. Finished the audio version in February 2016. In the Afterword, Lewis apologizes for the book, an apology I refuse to accept. Just delightful.

  • Amanda
    2019-01-30 13:54

    Before picking up this excellent book, there are a few things the reader needs to understand: First of all, what the title means. Many people are confused about the word "regress," especially since it mirrors Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress." Many people (myself included) are under the impression that the story is about a Christian backsliding in his faith. In reality, the "regress" refers to the fact that, as Richard Wagner put it in "C.S. Lewis and Narnia for Dummies," you aren't "simply shuffled off to heaven by a host of angels. You have to go back to the real world after you make a decision for Jesus Christ" (p. 231).Secondly, if the reader doesn't understand the symbolism, it will be a long and perhaps meaningless journey. Some of the symbolism is quite obvious -- Mr. Wisdom represents wisdom, and the story of the mountain apple is symbolic of Adam & Eve eating the apple in Eden. However, there are many symbols in the book that are not quite as obvious, especially since they may reference philosophies that have fallen out of popularity since Lewis's time. For this reason, I highly recommend that the reader find a companion book or website to reference while reading about the pilgrim's journey. I used (and recommend) "C.S. Lewis and Narnia for Dummies," but I am sure there are many other resources as well.Now, on to the meat of my review. Many people (Lewis included) would say that the allegory has failed, because he intended to generalize about the journey from atheism to Christianity. However, when writing he didn't realize how subjective his journey was, and so in the end the story became more autobiographical than he intended. In that sense, yes, the allegory has perhaps failed. Yet, I still found myself relating to many of John's (the pilgrim's) pit stops in his journey. I have been to the city of Claptrap and have seen the Canyon. I have met Mr. Broad, Mr. Sensible, and Vertue. On my return journey from the Canyon, my world looked entirely different. Indeed, there are many ways in which the modern reader can relate to John's travels, even if you are not familiar with 19th-century Rationalism or philosophical idealism.Specific to this edition of "The Pilgrim's Regress," the headlines at the tops of the pages are, in my opinion, very helpful. Some might find them distracting, and if you are one of those types, perhaps you ought to ignore them altogether. However, I thought they helped me focus on the most important aspects of the story and helped me tie it together quite nicely.

  • Sharon Barrow Wilfong
    2019-02-05 17:00

    C.S. Lewis is mostly known for his Narnia Chronicles. Some of us are also familiar with his Science Fiction Trilogy. Then there is the bulk of his work that fall under the genre apologetics.I've read most of Lewis' work but I had not read the Pilgrim's Regress before. He wrote it shortly after he became a Christian and it is interesting in its insight into one man's conversion experience and also as a comparison to his later works.Inspired by John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Lewis wrote his work as an allegory. It starts with a young man, John, who is living on a pleasant countryside with his parents.As a young boy, he gets smacked for doing the wrong thing, such as shooting at birds or pulling flowers out of the garden, even though he really doesn't understand why this is bad. When John asks why these things are wrong he is told that the Steward says so.He asks who the Steward is and is told the Steward is the man who makes the rules for the country.John asks why. Because the Landlord set him to do it.Who is the Landlord? The owner of all the country.One day John's parents take him to see the Steward. He is in a large, grand, formidable building and stands behind a pulpit or Judge's Bench. The Steward is an affable old man who cheerfully waves them towards him, but when they get down to business, the Steward puts on a scary mask and pontificates about the "Rules" and how one must obey them or there will be dire, dire consequences.John looks at a card with the rules on it that the Steward had given him."Half the rules seemed to forbid things he'd never heard of and the other half forbade things he was doing every day and could not imagine not doing and the number of rules was so enormous that he felt he never could remember them all."Then the Steward asked if John had broken any of the rules. John is petrified. The Steward takes the mask off again and mutters, "Better tell a lie, old chap, better tell a lie. Easiest for all concerned." then "pops the mask back on again." So John denies breaking any of the rules.Afterward the Steward takes off the mask, becomes his cheery self again and whispers down to John, "If I were you, I wouldn't worry too much about it."Later John's Uncle George has notice to quit his farm. He has to see the Steward. John and his parents walk with George to see the Steward. All of them are wearing masks now, except George who is too upset to put his on. John, his parents and the Steward walk him to the edge of the Land up to the Landlord's castle. where he then had to walk on by himself. George is very upset but has no choice."Nobody ever saw him again.'Well,' said the Steward, untying his mask as they turned homweard. 'We've all got to go when our times comes.'"John is concerned about being turned out without any notice like George. He asks his mother if George might be put in the black hole."'How dare you say such a thing about your poor uncle? Of course he won't.'"'But hasn't Uncle George broken all the rules?''Broken all the rules? Your Uncle George was a very good man.''You never told me that before,' said John.That is the introduction to John and his journey across the Landlord's Land. I think most of us recognize the Church of England and what it had converted Christianity into by the time of C.S. Lewis, although it had been developing in that direction for some time. Namely, that God and His presence had been largely removed from worship and all that was left was ceremony and "rules" that the average citizen acknowledged one needed to follow in order to be "civilized."I have heard the term lately of "Christian Atheists." These are people who claim they do not believe in God but believe that the rules provided by Christian belief are necessary for a society to flourish. That is what many churches have devolved into. "Be a nice person. Don't hurt anyone, but don't take any of it too seriously."John is not satisfied with this because it does not speak to the deep longing in his being that wants something more than to simply be a "good person" and get along with others. So he embarks on a journey, like Pilgrim in Bunyan's story, and on the way he travels through several lands and meets many strange sorts of people.Each country, of course, represents a segment of society present when Lewis wrote the story in 1931. First John finds sex and plenty of young girls to have sex with. He finds that the pleasure he experiences is short lived and simply doesn't reach to the bottom of his desire. He keeps seeking but never finds what he is looking for. Unfortunately for him, he finds that his sex partners proliferate and he has a miserable time escaping them. This is meant to be taken symbolically. While it is easy enough to throw someone over after you're tired of them, a type of "spirit" of them stays with you. This is sometimes called emotional baggage but it also is something more profound.From there he meets Mr. Halfway who presents True Love to him through his beautiful singing. Or at least John thinks so. It is actually quite shallow but sounds so beautiful it deceives him for sometime. He finally stays with Halfway's daughter only to find she is really just a sister of the other girls he was with.My favorite place he visits is the Lost Generation, because I've just finished reading Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Lewis nails some of the pretensions of the Jazz Age. He describes them:"They were all either young, or dressed up to look as if they were young. The girls had short hair and flat breasts and flat buttocks so that they looked like boys: but the boys had pale, egg-shaped faces and slender waists and big hips so that they looked like girls-except for a few of them who had long hair and beards.'What are they so angry about?' whispered John.'They are not angry, they are talking about Art'"Lewis penetrates through the falsehood of the Jazz Babies, then those who like philosophy without spirit, the "rational" or scientific age. And also the Barbarism and Paganism that was looming overhead with the rise of Hitler though he does not explicitly name him.In the end John travels all around the world until he ends up back where he started, however, he is not the same person thanks to the fact that he meets with Reason, a woman on a white horse, and Old Mother Kirk.The conversations that John has with the people at each stopping point is illuminating to Lewis' own spiritual journey. At one point John is told that his desires created a Landlord because he needed one to exist. Reason later tells him that the opposite is true. The Doubters are the ones who need the Landlord to not exist, hence their own logic is built on that premise.In the end, John does find what he is looking for, which can be summed up in a teaser:Science can try to explain how a tree came to be. But it cannot tell us why it is beautiful. Finally meeting the Landlord answers that question and also fulfills all of John's deepest longings, which is to be in intimate fellowship with Him.The conversations Lewis writes between a Spiritual pilgrim and every argument against seeking the Landlord makes the book a valuable read.

  • Jacob Aitken
    2019-02-02 17:57

    This book described Lewis' conversion to Christianity using an allegory. It parallels many of the same themes in *Surprised by Joy,* namely that joy (or sehnsucht) is inevitable and can be filled rightly or wrongly. The reader discovers that Christianity does not get rid of utter desire and joy, but transforms them. In the meanwhile, using John, Lewis tells us how he escaped the snares of various penny-ante yet at the time culturally respectable secular philosophies.The good:Lewis showed how Christianity rehabilitates Plato (or Carl Jung? The book wasn't always clear). The discussion of archetype and ectype was brilliant. Reason personified as a female. One is reminded of Joan d'Arc. Reason's introduction in the book is one of sheer awe. John is caught in the muck and slime of his own foolishness, then reason appears like lightning from a clear sky, sword in hand to rescue him. But Lewis is careful. He knows that Reason has limits and the reader sees what Reason can and can't do for the Christian. The bad:The book moved too quickly. Most people will have no idea what he is talking about half of the time. But Lewis recognized this as well. Still, definitely required reading for the Lewis afficionado.

  • Kells Next Read
    2019-02-10 16:31

    Actual Ratings: 3.25

  • Steve Hemmeke
    2019-02-01 17:57

    One of Lewis's first books after his conversion, he uses Bunyan's trope to do what we now call a "worldview apologetic," as only a Cambridge literature don could. This work is quite obscure and hard to follow, at least for my small brain (though he admits the obscurity himself in a later preface in this edition.)Lewis begins with hypocritical Puritan Christianity, and is merciless in his critique, replete with masks, badly told stories, and pious cliches. John, the Pilgrim, quickly leaves it, and regresses on from fornication, to Thrill, the spirit of the age, every modern form of philosophy you can imagine. He does what Van Til 20 years later called Christians to do: tear down every argument and philosophy opposed to Christ. The difficulty is that I didn't recognize much of it, 60 years later and through Lewis' prism. He writes that he didn't mean it to be autobiographical, but I think as one of his earlier works it very much was.Some parts were clear and great.1. Mother Kirk must carry us across the chasm, but most refuse her way and go the harder way around.2. We suppress the truth about God, but wind up praying to Him, and pursued by Him, anyway.3. We substitute cheaper, quicker and shallower desires for the true Desired One.4. There are as many sins of the mind as there are of the flesh: Lewis catalogs many of the former.5. Temptation is hard to resist, even when we see the devastating results right in front of us.5. Neither reason, feeling, nor virtue alone will carry us to glory, but we do need all three.If you take it up, be ready for some tough sledding. But there is reward along the way.

  • Erin
    2019-02-10 17:35

    I loved this book! It is clear that it was written with more than a knowledge but rather a deep understanding of "the search" and the many different viewpoints that one comes into contact with along the way. The graceful art in which he interwove and utilized one's capacity for spacial visualization in such a deep and revealing way was amazing. If I were to liken it to something, and this may be a little strange but bear with me, it would remind me of a flower. It starts off as a bud held in your hand. It's fairly interesting rather simplistic, something easily grasped. However, as it begins to unfold there hidden vibrant colors, you begin to realize it's shape has changed completely and it's actually a much deeper and more complex approach than you first thought. As you lean in to breath its fragrance, you find that you were never holding the flower but standing upon it. I loved the fun use of words sprinkled throughout, it was challenging and just plain fun. Like a treasure hunt. I loved how he tied in Old English roots etc. The only thing I wish that I had had was a better knowledge of Greek or at least a commentary or translation. But honestly, I enjoyed this book so much, I would love to read a commentary on it. There were so many thoughtfully chosen, unexplained details that I think would be fun, to unravel and discover their respective sources.

  • Didymus Bibliophilus
    2019-01-17 16:01

    I am surprised at how long it took me to discover this book. I think the first time I heard of it was while reading George Sayer's Lewis biography. It is definitely a must-read for Lewis fans.As The Pilgrim's Regress is Lewis' first novel as a Christian, I am also surprised at how developed his understanding of the faith was, even in its infancy. This books contains many of the same ideas that will be expressed more clearly in his future works like Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce. He will express his ideas more clearly, but they are very much the same ideas being expressed.A funny note: when someone from the American Catholic publishing house Sheed & Ward read the book (it might have been Frank Sheed himself?) they assumed it was about Lewis’ conversion from Protestantism to (Roman) Catholicism. It is not.I read the Wade Annotated Edition of this book. Unless you're a high-caliber classicist and philosopher I wouldn't recommend reading any other edition. The text is strewn with literary allusion and Greek and Latin phrases. The Annotated Edition does an excellent job of explaining these references. As an added bonus they include a few of Lewis' own annotations found in a copy of the book he gave to one of his students, so that's fun (although his annotations usually require a further explanation from the editor).The edition also includes a few illustrations which are quite nice.If you haven't read Lewis before, do not read this first. But do try to get to it at somepoint.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-02-02 13:46

    I love C.S. Lewis but I'll be honest here. this one went almost completely over my head the first time I read it. I got a philosophical reference here and there but Lewis was so well versed in philosophy that I was left in the dust and forced back to the drawing board. Anyone who has studied Lewis probably knows he started as an atheist and after much struggle became a Christian. He came to the Lord in large part through logic and philosophical study so early on thought most others did to. This book follows that process through an alagorical journey.Heavy going but still well worth it if you want to put in the time or already have the philosophical chops.C.S.Lewis,Surprised by Joy: "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading."

  • Jay Miklovic
    2019-02-14 17:52

    At the outset I must confess that at least 1/3 of this book was well over my head. With that said, this was an enjoyable book to read, and the portions which resonated with me were well worth the confusion I endured during the other portions.Lewis was a master of allegory, and this book is no exception. The reader who struggles intellectually with the faith will find this book to be a breath of fresh air. John, the main character's, struggle with the various philosophies and philosophers of the world were so vivid and real that you cannot help but think "I have fought this same battle" as you are reading. At many points you sense yourself to be in John's shoes knowing that you are fighting, at this very moment, the exact battle which Lewis has portrayed. I often found myself wondering as I read how each discourse would end, just hoping it would give me insight to my own struggles.This was an excellent book. I imagine if I were better read in the philosophers which Lewis takes aim at I would have given the book 5 stars. The reason for leaving the last star off is my own ignorance.Lewis, in the afterword which he wrote 10 years later, laments his own obscurity in the book, and I share that lament. There were simply too many times where Lewis assumed his reader would understand his subject matter, which was too broad of an assumption, at least for a reader like me.Nonetheless, I highly recommend this book, and believe it was well worth wrestling through.

  • Kris
    2019-01-24 14:37

    Such an under-rated book by Lewis. I was amazed at all the things he managed to pack into this simple literary device -- a little allegory that turned out to not be so little.So many philosophical movements, so many religions, so many emotions and character traits explored -- I loved seeing where John would go next and what pitfall he would discover. Loved Lewis's note at the end, from the third edition, as well -- a beautiful exploration of his fascination with desire and its basis in Christianity. I wish more commentaries from lit critics were written on this book alone.I think I expected less, because this is such an early book from Lewis. But it was very powerful, and great to listen to. I liked how the reader tried to do various voices. I'll definitely be getting my hands on and re-reading this again some day, marking up the margins with notes. I don't know why I waited so long to read it in the first place!

  • Jon R. Jordan
    2019-01-28 15:35

    Reading note:I recommend beginning with the Afterword. Your milage may vary, but in it Lewis addresses many of the concerns you may have with the book itself.Book note:Lewis allegorizes his own conversion experience in an attempt to generalize for a wider audience much of what he experienced being drawn to the faith. Cultural and intellectual commentary abounds, but I found the real beauty of the book in its portrayal of the Church, Baptism, and conversion.

  • M. J.
    2019-01-29 16:41

    It is always disappointing to read a book by a favorite author that disappoints. In this case, there are clear reasons why it does so, some of them outlined in the Afterword to this, the 1943 edition of the 1933 book.I had become aware of the title decades ago in college; it was a clever title, and I wanted to read the book then, but being a student and newly wed afforded little in both money and time. It was not until sometime in the past decade, when my wife was spending a small fortune at Borders, that I obtained and read a copy. That copy vanished, and resurfaced last week, so I decided to give it a second chance.Part of my problem is that the book is allegory. Lewis admits that it is a particularly obscure allegory, because he, thinking that his experience would be extremely common, was afraid it would be overly obvious. He discovered in the decade after it was published that despite the "logic" of his own progress toward Christian faith it was extremely uncommon for others, even other intellectuals, to go through the same steps, and thus he was overcautious. Additionally, though, he admits that the popular intellectual and philosophical landscape of the world changed drastically after he wrote the book, with the result that his metaphors and images pointed to ideas and movements which were no longer terribly well known. If they were so unfamiliar in 1943, they certainly would be obscure six and seven decades later.That said, there were many ideas and schools of thought that I did recognize--Freudianism, religious modernism, hedonism--and his handling of these through the allegory is extremely well done, giving an accurate impression of the effect these have on our views of reality and showing where they fail. Reason's riddles to the Giant are particularly clever, and even when some of the details of the allegory are unclear the overall pattern comes through well.The story is laced with fantasy tropes--the giant, dragons, dwarfs--but is not much like a fantasy adventure, more akin to its titular inspiration, Pilgrim's Progress (which I read some years ago). It flows with a dream-like quality, and is couched as being a dream of the narrator concerning the first person character (the counterpart to Pilgrim in the other book, but named John in this one), yet is still very coherent as a journey of the central character, sometimes in the company of others particularly Vertue, sometimes Reason, with stops along the way among such as the Clevers and the Pale Men and Mr. Broad, sometimes hearing tales of others he avoided. More deeply, it is something of an apologetic based on the argument that men have a desire for some object unclear to themselves, which is not satisfied by anything other than God. John's desire takes the form of an island in the east he has briefly glimpsed from a distance, of which he gains glimpses in other things but cannot find; God is the Landlord living the castle to the west who owns the property on which they live and will ultimately cancel each resident's lease. The regress occurs because John spends most of the book running away from the Landlord's castle trying to reach the island, but the outcome of that would be a major spoiler.It is well worth reading if you have some knowledge of philosophical ideas of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and even without that it does a good job of illustrating the flaws with many of the errors that keep people from faith.

  • Bart Breen
    2019-01-28 19:39

    Listen to the Audio Tape if you can!I recently listened to this work of Lewis' as read by Whitfield from the 3rd edition. I have no doubt that I would have enjoyed reading it, but this narration truly brought it to life in a manner that reading might have failed to do.Having some background certainly will help the reader to understand what Lewis is doing here. Certainly, someone unfamiliar with John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" would stand a pretty good chance of getting lost. I'm not sure I agree that familiarity with Lewis's other, later, writings is necessary although it certainly wouldn't hurt. Aside from Bunyan, I believe this work stands well on its own.You might want to consider as well, reading the afterword to the 3rd edition in which Lewis gives some insight to his use of the word romanticism which he believes on second thought adds to some confusion due to it's broad use. Reading that in advance may add some needed enlightenment. Reading it a second time is probably a needed investment as new applications and understandings will appear. That is the nature of well written allegory.Allegory is often a misunderstood literary vehicle. Lewis struggled with his relationship with JRR Tolkien at some levels because Tolkien absolutely despised allegory in all its forms and was wary of any work where he detected it. No doubt Lewis was well aware of that and got an earful through his association with Tolkien as well as his other acquaintances who over the years came to be known as the "Inklings" where current writings were read, critiqued and evaluated.Lewis dabbled in allegory in other areas although no other work truly can be called a pure allegory so much as this, his first novel as a believer. The Narnia Chronicles contain allegorical literary devices but are not purely allegory. The Space Trilogy can be said to do the same but is even less allegorical than the Narnia Chronicles.Really good allegory, doesn't require a key to give it understanding. This work of Lewis can be said to be really good allegory but there are some elements of higher literature (to be expected in a professor of Literature) and some language elements where Latin maxims are included without the benefit of translation. If you're reading this for anything other than entertainment you'll find you probably need to do some work to understand the subtle nuances that Lewis conveys in his use of these maxims as well as some of the names which will not be so readily apparent to the casual reader. That understood, the casual reader should still be able to come away with the gist of what Lewis is illustrating and be entertained in the process.A brief word about the narration, as I listened to this on CD rather than reading it directly. It is outstanding! The use of many distinctive voices which are memorable and consistent make this a dramatic reading that is rivaled by few others I've ever heard. In fact, I'm almost tempted to push for your first experience to be hearing it that reading it for just that reason. There is a cadence to the reading that shows Lewis had a grasp on drama and poetry that I wish he'd have continued to evidence in his later works to the degree he did here. It is breathtaking and brilliant on its own merits whether you are in sympathy with his primary message or not.Definite 5 stars all the way around! An excellent book.

  • MC
    2019-01-24 15:54

    The Pilgrim's Regress is one of those books that are both puzzling and gratifying at the same time. The book is partly autobiographical, in that CS Lewis used imagery and allegory to depict his own journey of faith.This obviously seems to be influenced by John Bunyan's religious and political tract, The Pilgrim's Progress. Just like Bunyan narrating the story in the form of a "dream" he had, so Lewis narrates this story the same way.I will say that this story is both easier and harder for me to judge. Lewis does have a much greater ability to write and tell stories than Bunyan did, and doesn't go off into sermonizing the same way as Bunyan. Well, he does in other books, but he got good at it by then *coughPerelandracough*. So these elements were easy for me to judge well.What makes it hard to judge is if Bunyan wasn't writing what was justified for him given his life experiences and if his penchant for violence disturbing me didn't bias me towards favoring Lewis. Plus Lewis is a huge influence on my life.All of this is because, whether I like it or not, comparisons of the two completely different works (though Bunyan obviously influencing Lewis) are inevitable given that very influence and the corresponding narrative and so on similarities in said works.I will say that while Lewis did not take such savage aim at his pet peeves and those who disagreed with him as Bunyan did, he does reveal in the afterword that he had been ill-tempered and maybe unfair to those who disagrees with. I didn't notice personally, but as Lewis said it was there, it was.Moreover, this is a book that seems to show that the Truth is in the middle of the extremes (not in terms of belief in the Bible, but philosophy) that men and women go towards. As such, many of the names and places are of writers, philosophers, philosophical positions, so on.I did enjoy the book quite more this time than the first time around. Now, whether that was because I took it more piece-meal, or because my patience for somewhat slow narratives or quite obvious allegory is greater, I don't know. I don't quite like some of the references that sound kinda racist if not taken in context. Not because I think Lewis was a racist (I think the evidence was against this) or so on, but because it is just so cringe-inducing to read those sections, that I can't imagine what it would be like to discuss them. For the fictional world that John (Lewis' author avatar) is from the albino like Pale Men and the beautiful Brown Girls are extremes that can lead one astray from the truth.I do think that, if in Heaven he is thinking it over now, he might have written it over again to avoid unfortunate implications that he didn't really believe.In general, if one can get over the wierdness of certain elements and realize that Lewis was a good man trying to make a point, and not at all any type of bad man, and can have patience with the very in your face allegory, one will greatly enjoy this book.Rating: 3 1/2 Stars.

  • Steven Wedgeworth
    2019-02-14 13:51

    This book is pretty much inaccessible to the general reader. There's no need for you to read any version other than the annotated edition because you will need all of the help you can get. I enjoyed the aspects where Lewis interacts with the Enlightenment and various modern literary, philosophical, and psychological movements. He was also prescient in his understanding of reactionary right-wing movements in Europe at the time. Still, this is not going to be a book that most people will enjoy. It is incredibly difficult, even if you are comfortable with the genre of allegory and the general topics under discussion. Parts of it are entertaining, but parts are simply not. I lost interest after John's conversion, and the "regress" (for which the book is named!) seemed to be almost an afterthought. This book strikes me as primarily important for contextualizing Lewis's larger philosophy of nature and grace and giving the ideas in his other books a more explicit foundation. It's clear that Lewis is something of a big-tent Anglican Protestant, somewhat perennialist but also definitively Augustinian. It's an education in a box, but it will take a lot of work on the reader's part.

  • Lance Schaubert
    2019-02-04 15:37

    I don’t know what I can say about this to convey the weight of the book other than to say (1) Lewis was obviously younger when he wrote this than when he wrote his other books (2) I’m younger than Lewis was when he published this volume (3) this volume explains a great deal of his work elsewhere.Oh, and of course that he decimates many false philosophies that are alive and well today, though not with as much grace as he has elsewhere. There are parts in the this book that will remain with me until I die.Especially the bit about the desire behind all desires...

  • David Gregg
    2019-01-18 13:56

    This is a very meaningful story. I enjoyed it thoroughly and intend to read it again.

  • Ben De Bono
    2019-02-09 13:42

    If you thought Narnia's allegory was a bit too subtle, then this is the book for you! Not Lewis' best, an opinion he himself shared

  • Bre Teschendorf
    2019-01-28 20:45

    I feel like I don't know how to rate this book because it felt like it was beyond my intellectual grasping so how could I say, "Yes, it was spot on..." or "His contentions were lacking..."? Normally what I love about C.S. Lewis is his ability to make "high-intellectual-ideas" accessible to even the likes of me. But I don't think it would be fair to say that just because this book was out of my league in many ways, that it therefore wasn't good. I know that whilst reading it I had several really nice "Ah-Ha" moments but I cannot honestly say that they were deep and penetrating enough that I still remember them. In fact, only one idea really rang out to me so clearly that is still firmly planted in my brain and that is that it is NOT the journey that matters but the destination. I love that! It is so contrary to hipster-millennial thinking, that it took me a moments pause to digest it and I firmly concur! Although I am generally a lover of poetry, I didn't enjoy the transition into lots of poetic verse at the end, when the Pilgrim-Regresses. However, I did sort of like the idea that once we have found the real destination of our journey that our days will be filled with singing! It wasn't clear to me, until it was stated in black and white that Vertue was John's "other-self". Having understood that brought much more of the book into clarity, I wish I could have grasped it earlier, I might have had a better grasp on the entire book. I never was able to completely reconcile the idea of "Wisdom" being off-base in some way. I couldn't help but wonder if there couldn't have been a more apt name for him that would have made the idea that something like "Wisdom", directly from God, arguably one of the 7-fold Spirits of God, could be not 100% good. In conclusion, this was clearly not my favorite C.S. Lewis book, I don't mind concluding that Lewis did indeed grow as a writer from this first allegory to the last and I am glad that he did. However, this book was not without its merit, depth and insight, so I am still glad that I read it.

  • Josh Bauder
    2019-01-26 12:31

    First, it’s a companion to Bunyan, with the characters and settings updated to reflect the philosophical developments of the modern world.Second, it’s an allegorical retelling of Lewis’s own journey from popular realism to Idealism to Pantheism to Theism to Christianity - essentially a fictionalized version of Surprised by Joy.Third, in addition to being a defense of Reason and Christianity, it’s a defense of Romanticism. Along the way we get Lewis’s assessment of philosophical systems, especially the hard rigorism of the North and the porous subjectivism of the South.Finally, it delineates a compelling relationship between morality (Vertue) and faith (John).

  • David Sarkies
    2019-02-09 12:40

    An allegory of the author's intellectual journey6 December 2014 After I started reading this book for a second time I suddenly kicked myself for not reading Pilgrim's Progress beforehand because it is quite clear that the former book has heavily influenced this work. However, I have read it (a while ago) and are somewhat familiar with the story, so it wasn't that big of a mistake. Anyway, following the tradition of Pilgrim's Progress, Lewis sets out to write an allegorical spiritual journey which, while based on his life, is not necessarily strictly following it (and there are a number of instances where the allegory diverges from his own experience). Once again, like Surprised by Joy Lewis' journey is one through the intellectual sphere as the character John (no doubt taken from the writer of Pilgrim's Progress – John Bunyon) travels to seek the island that as a child gave him so much joy. There has been some discussion as to why Lewis' chose the title 'Pilgrim's Regress' in that the Christian journey is not one of regressions. However I feel that that completely misses the purpose of the book. Pilgrim's Progress is an allegorical story of everyman's journey from becoming a Christian and the struggles that many face as they go on that journey. This is not the case with Lewis' story because it is not the Christian journey that Lewis is exploring, but the journey to becoming a Christian. It is the case that once John finally overcomes the final obstacle the road suddenly becomes clear, however the journey to that point is anything but smooth. Another factor we need to consider is that this is not the journey of the everyman, but the journey of an intellectual as he navigates the various philosophies that are thrown up against him and the lies and deceits that he encounters. The allegories are presented in numerous ways, such as hedonism being painted as brown boys and girls (and these creatures come across as being little more than automatons who act like snares to entrap the unwary traveller), or Freudianism being painted as the land of the giants. It is interesting to see how John navigates these obstacles, though to understand some of these obstacles, one must first know a few things about the world in which Lewis is writing. To explain this though I need to show you a map of the world: As you can see, there is a path that travels directly across the continent effectively dividing it in half. As Lewis explains in his introduction this divides the two spiritual points on his compass – to the south of the line you have emotion and feeling while to the north of the line you have the world of intellect and reason. You will notice that a lot of the time John spends to the north of the road, which suggests that he saw that emotion could not really provide anything of substance, so he crossed into the intellectual sphere (which is very much a trait of C.S. Lewis, who did marry, but not until quite late). As with all allegories though, they do have a tendency of falling apart because I know in my own life I have drifted through emotion and reason at the same time. The other interesting thing that I noted is that as he travels across the country, the Christian truth doesn't necessarily become clearer to him, but rather is diluted with other ideas that serve to undermine the message. If the Christian message is salvation by faith, and God revealing himself to us in the form of Jesus Christ, then this message can easily be undermined, such as through the introduction of laws. This is something that comes out at the beginning where he is forced to go to church every Sunday wearing very uncomfortable clothes, and being told that one must obey the laws otherwise one will be thrown into the pit. No wonder he walked away from this because there was clearly no joy, just pain and fear. However, as he travels, he comes to see some truth in his past, however it was a truth that was undermined by the need for power. The question arises where the rules initially came from – where they always there, or where they only created afterwards. If there is indeed a moral absolute, then that suggests that the laws have always been around, however the question is then raised as to which laws are a part of the absolute and which were created afterwards to essentially enslave humanity. While Paul the Apostle does speak about to need to live a moral life, he also cries out against the laws and the rituals that are created to effectively enslave us. The final thing that I wish to note is the elements of Gnosticism that seem to exist in this book. For instance we hear a lot of the Monad, which is something that has come out of the ancient Gnostic literature that I have read. The Monad is effectively the supreme being, otherwise known in the common parlance as God. However, unlike the God of the Bible, who reveals himself, the Monad is trapped behind a cloud of unknowing: a mysterious figure the truth of which we can never learn.

  • D. Ryan
    2019-02-08 20:48

    I don' think I would have enjoyed this book without Downing's copious annotations explaining all Lewis' quotations, allusions, and connections with other of Lewis' works. That said, this is a wonderful allegory of Lewis\ philosophical journey to faith-- and what a journey!

  • Brenton
    2019-02-01 20:39

    A peculiar and layered book by C.S. Lewis, strongly annotated by David Downing in a beautiful edition.

  • Crystal
    2019-02-02 14:01

    Enjoyable but I do recommend reading this AFTER "Surprised by Joy" by C.S. Lewis and Bunyan's "Pilgrims Progress".

  • Tori Samar
    2019-01-28 20:35

    C.S. Lewis is such an enigma. Within the same book, he can say something that makes you nod your head vigorously in agreement; but then, a few pages later, he can say something that makes you scratch your head in theological confusion or write "No, that's just wrong" in the margins of the book. In this regard, The Pilgrim's Regress is no different.Here's where this book shines: the overall narrative arc is great. It begins with the protagonist John discovering that a deep desire/longing (for "the Island") has been awakened in him. Almost immediately, he pursues all sorts of substitutes to try to satisfy this longing. He turns to a woman who symbolizes lust and soon finds himself the father of a whole family of sins. He encounters a myriad number of philosophies and artistic movements that claim they can satisfy his desire. On the journey to find the Island, John also meets Mother Kirk (the symbol for Christianity), who insists that only she can carry him over the Grand Canyon (created by Adam's sin) that is blocking his forward progress. The rest of the book consists mostly of John looking for help anywhere and everywhere else, until he finally accepts that Christianity is all that can get him across the canyon. He also learns that he was never really looking for satisfaction in the Island, or anything else he encountered along the way. His longing was meant to teach him one key thing: Has not every object which fancy and sense suggested for the desire, proved a failure, confessed itself, after trial, not to be what you wanted? Have you not found by elimination that this desire is the perilous seige in which only One can sit? (C.S. Lewis understood so well that we have all been hard-wired to seek satisfaction and that such satisfaction can only ever be found in God. Everything else is a feeble idol that will let us down in the end).However, this is not where the narrative arc ends (an insightful move on Lewis's part, in my opinion). After the crossing of the canyon comes the regress. This regress is not John's turning to apostasy or falling back into sin. Rather, he returns to his hometown of Puritania with totally new eyes with which to see the world. And there are still temptations that he must battle. Lewis's choice to close out the narrative in this way is a good reminder that while God makes us new creatures at conversion, he does not immediately take us out of this world to be with Him, or remove us from sin's presence. He leaves us to live out our lives as changed people, for however long He sees fit. Here's where this book fails: the "nitty-gritty" of the book (as opposed to the broad narrative arc) is mostly confusing or concerning. As Lewis himself says in the afterword (you might consider reading this part first so that you're slightly more prepared to read the book), he was far too obscure in his allegory. He was so focused on his own unique spiritual journey that he included many things that made sense to him but to no one else. That's a definite problem. Allegory doesn't work particularly well if only the author knows what the allegory means. But my biggest concern with the book involves the details (or lack thereof) surrounding John's conversion to Christianity. There's much talk of reason but really no mention of faith. And most troubling is that Christ (who does show up briefly in an earlier part of the book) is entirely absent. Where is He? Where is a clear explanation of the gospel and evidence that John understands why he needs to believe it? I looked, and I looked, and I looked. But I couldn't find anything that made me confident that Lewis really and truly understood what makes a Christian a Christian. Some good. Some bad. Either way, intriguing to read.(Read for the 2017 Tim Challies Christian Reading Challenge: A book of your choice)

  • Nathan Albright
    2019-02-16 14:38

    As an early Christian, shortly after returning to the fold, so to speak, after a youth and a young adulthood spent as an atheist, C.S. Lewis wrote this book. The book is an obvious reference to the classic work by John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress [1] and seeks to provide a discussion of the moral landscape of his life outside of Christianity as well as the difficult process of his conversion back to the Anglican faith he had, albeit not with personal conviction, as a child growing up in the Protestant Ascendancy. This particular book, despite some lovely and medieval-themed illustrations by Michael Hague, has long been one of the more obscure and less popular books to read by C.S. Lewis, and it is somewhat easy to understand why, as Lewis himself admits in the afterword that the book is marked by two difficulties, one being the obscurity of its allegorical presentation and the other being a certain lack of charity about the other people in the book who are being written about and their worldviews, although for the most part the author continued to stand by his work even despite these flaws.The contents of this book are divided as a straightforward journey, or at least as straightforward as a highly intellectual allegory about people and intellectual movements that have mostly been forgotten, can be. Those who are fond readers of books and poems will be able to catch a few references. In one passage, for example, the book makes a clever and biting reference to the poem Invictus [2], and knowing the poem makes the bite all the more potent. The contents of the book are divided into ten books, each of which can be considered as a chapter, totaling about 200 pages in the edition I read, and the first seven books deal with the author’s blundering attempts to live life apart from God (The Data, Thrill, Through Darkest Zeitgeistheim, Back To The Road, The Grand Canyon, Northward Along The Canyon, and Southward Along The Canyon). The eighth chapter, At Bay, looks at Lewis’ conversion process, the ninth chapter examines Lewis’ crossing of the great divide between man-centered and God-centered ways of thinking, and the tenth chapter is basically a trip along the same ground the author had tried to cross alone, only this time as a Christian, providing a sense of echoing, if not exactly repetition, before the roman-a-clef ends with John (an obvious reference to John Bunyan) crossing over the brook into the Kingdom of God. Since Lewis was at this time an early Christian, he wisely did not write too much about the ground that he was just starting to trod.Despite the fact that reading this book almost requires footnotes to call to mind the precise intellectual heresies that Lewis was poking at, some of which are nearly entirely forgotten today, as important as they were for Lewis and his contemporaries, and despite the fact that some of the aspects of this book are patently uncharitable, there is still a great deal of worth in this book for readers who share the author’s sense of longing for the Island that is God’s Kingdom. For fellow romanticists (and Lewis here discusses the term in a very detailed way) of the stripe of Lewis or Goethe, the book offers an understanding of how both the pull of lust (which Lewis cleverly, if in a mildly racist fashion, relates to brown girls) as well as intellectual vanity and pride and other sins of mankind relate to our fallen nature on this side of the river, which appears to man to be a Grand Canyon cutting us off from the Kingdom of God unless we have his help. Not all people will understand this work, or appreciate it, but for those who do, this is a thoughtful minor work that allows Lewis to have a first pass at a memoir as well as an intellectual history of his time from the point of view of England’s most miserable convert to Christianity during the early 1930’s, as well as providing an early example of Lewis’ deep and abiding love for masque and allegory [3] as well as the writing and thinking of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, of which this book is a very belated tribute.[1] See, for example:https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...[2] See, for example:https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...[3] See, for example:https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...

  • Nelleke Plouffe
    2019-02-07 13:32

    I am very aware that there is much more in this book than I understood. Perhaps I will come back to it when I am older.

  • PJ Wenzel
    2019-01-25 19:57

    I have no idea what was going on in this book. Maybe I'll revisit it in a few years...maybe.

  • Bob
    2019-02-15 17:34

    Most don't consider this one of Lewis's best, and truthfully, neither did I. But even "inferior" Lewis is better than much that is out there.The book is a pilgrimage narrative that reflects Lewis's journey from early religious instruction (humorously portrayed by the Steward who presents the law both seriously behind a mask, and with a wink and a nod). John, the pilgrim in this story subsequently sights a beautiful island, and eventually strikes out in quest of the island moving successively through instances of sensuality portrayed in the southern lands, and arid science and philosophy in the northern lands. He is joined be Virtue, refusing the help of Mother Kirk until they stay in the Valley of Wisdom. What happens then and their further adventures, I will leave to the reader.The value of the book is the chronicle of the inadequacies of the different places John (and Lewis) explored before coming to faith. Some of the figures he encounters offer pointed commentary on the thin fare of the day (Mr. Sensible and Mr. Halfways in particular). Some of the references are more obscure and assume you are as familiar with theological, literary and philosophical currents of the day as was Lewis. He later admitted in a preface to the third edition of the book that some of this was needless obscure. The ending after his decisive encounter with Mother Kirk seemed unsatisfying. This book was written shortly after Lewis came to faith and may reflect his own lack of experience in post-conversion pilgrimage. His later works are certainly richer in this regard.I would not recommend this as the first book of Lewis's to read. But for those who love Lewis, you will appreciate the light this sheds on his spiritual journey that will sound familiar if you are acquainted with Surprised By Joy. You will also appreciate the survey of the other prevailing thought currents Lewis engaged in his day, and the nascent forms of many ideas that come to fuller expression in later works.