Call For Guest Blogs on The Great Divorce

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.

The series of heavenly encounters we call The Great Divorce ran from Nov 10th, 1944 through Apr 13th, 1945. The close of the final chapter on Apr 13th was published during a busy week in the WWII context. U.S.-Japan battles heighten into desperation, the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Belsen are liberated, Vienna falls to the Soviets, the Axis alliance shatters, and President Roosevelt dies, leaving Harry Truman to the post of Chief of State, global warrior, and, as we will see, international economic leader. It is also the week that Dietrich Bonhoeffer is assassinated in prison, a desperate last attempt for the Nazis to assert control in the dust of their architecture of war. It was a time that people were asking questions about death, heaven and hell, right and wrong, and the eternal value of a human life.

To honour The Great Divorce, I will run a series of reflections on and responses to this little work of theological fiction. Though I will not post every Monday, the series will echo the 1944-45 original run. So between Nov 10th this year and next Apr 13th I will be posting on The Great Divorce.

So I am opening this slot up to my blogging and digital community.There are few restrictions, and many ways to capture or consider this book. I only require that it is thoughtful and well written. Some ideas include:

  • A review of the book from a particular angle;
  • A look at one of the characters;
  • A response to one of the chapters;
  • A challenge to one of the ideas;
  • A criticism of one of Lewis’ authorial choices;
  • Literary readings of the book, including structuralist, environmental, post-colonial, theological, feminist, pacifist, reader-response, or denominational perspectives;
  • Stories of first encounters with the book (which might be during this series);
  • Your journey of re-reading The Great Divorce now that you are older;
  • Original artwork from the narrative;
  • Your vision of what a 21st century Great Divorce book cover should be;
  • Sermons, poems, short stories, or essays inspired by The Great Divorce;
  • Or, for the very brave, the character that Lewis forgot–a daring and creative fictional chapter that can be hypothetically slipped between the pages of The Great Divorce.

If you would like to contribute to this series, send me an email at junkola [at] gmail [dot] com. I will accept reworkings of a blog you’ve published, or an article you’ve written that you have digital rights to. I also welcome your own reblogging or mirroring of your work on your own blogs and digital networks.

And, dear readers, please share this call for guest blogs. Let’s shape the blogosphere so that it looks as little like the grey town as possible.

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About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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34 Responses to Call For Guest Blogs on The Great Divorce

  1. I’ve never read The Great Divorce before, but I would like to. Recently, I’ve actually been considering the idea of starting an extended reading project, which would consist of time-tested, foundational works of philosophy and theology: works by authors like C.S. Lewis, St. Augustine, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, among other written works, like those of Jim Elliot and Wendell Berry. I’ve been considering this idea because I’ve started asking a lot of questions over the past year, about Christianity, the church, God’s word, the world, theology, and similar subjects. I’ve grown up as a devoted follower of Jesus, and I’ve always been committed to looking for answers in God’s word, but I’m beginning to realize that I need to also look to the wise words of people that have gone before me, to observe their questions, their answers, their stories and experiences, and their conclusions about life and Christianity. I don’t have an overload of excess reading time, because of work and school, but I think that I need to make time for this project.

    From reading your blog for the past year, I know that you spend a lot of time reading such works of philosophy and theology. With all that in mind, do you have any recommendations for specific books that would be a good place to start?

    Thanks!

    Like

    • First, the code name “Aspiring Hobbit” is a lot of fun.
      Second, I had a similar journey, though I didn’t grow up in this world. I have been trying to backfill my missing reading for a few years now.
      Two great lists I have on my wall are:
      1. 25 Books Every Christian Should Know by “Michael G.” I’ve only read a few of these, but I have 5 year goal.
      2. Best All-time Fantasy Novels, 1987. It is dated, missing Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and J.K. Rowling. But it is a great list of 33. I’m on my 14th in a year 2 of a 5 year challenge.
      Does that help?
      I don’t have a more modern list of Christian writers, but I read Marilynne Robinson, Eugene Peterson, Frederick Buechner, and some Yancey.
      Perhaps you should read the Great Divorce and blog your response.

      Like

      • Thank you for your response and recommendations. I looked over the list of 25, and saw many titles that I’ve always wanted to read but never did. And I’m actually partway there, as I’m currently in the middle of Brother Lawrence’s “Practice of the Presence of God”. The list is right up the alley of my project idea. I’m definitely considering doing a blog response of the Great Divorce; it might even serve as a catalyst for the rest of the reading project. I’ll email you later in the year if I think I will actually be able to write one.
        The fantasy list also looks very interesting; I’ll have to look into some of the books it mentions.
        Thanks again! (and thanks for the compliment about my blogger name. You could say it is a reflection of who I want to become in physical aspects of my life– simple living– while reflecting the mindset of community, celebration, and courage that I desire).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. robstroud says:

    My favorite book! I recently reserved tickets for the stage production of The Great Divorce when the Fellowship for Performing Arts is on tour in Seattle in February. The rest of your readers may also want to check out their schedule: http://greatdivorceonstage.com

    Like

  3. Reblogged this on C.S. Lewis Minute and commented:
    My Friend Brenton is starting a special series on C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce and YOU can actually be a part of it.

    Like

  4. WriteFitz says:

    I love the challenge this presents. I’m not a total Lewis Nerd (unfortunately, though I try), but I am a huge fan. I’m in the midst of reading The Great Divorce right now. Going to give it some thought and may give it a go, since there’s a sufficient span of time available.

    I so enjoy your blog!

    Like

  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Lazy bibliographical question: do ‘we’ know if anyone has ever collated the periodical publication with the first-edition book form to see if they differ, and if so, how? (I suppose The Guardian is not easy to come by, outside British deposit libraries, or perhaps some theological/seminary collections in the UK…)

    Like

    • I have done this, actually, but just for myself. There is nothing really that helpful in it, but it was a good way to do a close reading. I had to track the letters down in a seminary–General Theological, now in all the news.

      Like

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Wow! Excellent! And interesting to hear there are no major differences, since you know better than many how Lewis could significantly revise texts!

        Like

        • He could. I think by the time this was finished, his mind was on “Miracles.” They both finished in draft form about the same time (I think). He was also proofing “George MacDonald,” and students were filling up the hallways. There’s really 5 years between his writing the last fiction “Great Divorce” and the first Narnia.

          Like

  6. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Is the “I” of The Great Divorce the person who writes about his friend Ransom in one work and another…?

    Like

  7. sdorman2014 says:

    looking forward to reading these guest posts. no ideas yet, but i would like to try it if i may.

    Like

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