C. S. Lewis,  Show Notes

Episode 47: The Great Divorce, Preface & Ch. 1

On The Literary Life podcast today, Cindy Rollins, Angelina Stanford and Thomas Banks begin their series on The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis. Today you are going to get a crash-course in Medievalism through Lewis’ story, and we hope you will enjoy this book as much as our hosts do. Angelina kicks off the discussion even while sharing her commonplace quote, sharing some information about the epigraph and front matter. She gives us some historical context, both for where this books comes in Lewis’ own timeline, as well as some ideas of the journey of the soul and medieval dream literature.

Thomas gives some background on Prudentius and his allegorical work The Psychomachia. Angelina goes into some comparisons between The Great Divorce and Dante’s Divine Comedy. Thomas talks about Nathanial Hawthorne’s short story The Celestial Railroad as a satire of Pilgrim’s Progress. Also, if you haven’t read and listened to E. M. Forster’s Celestial Omnibus, see Episode 17. As they get into discussing the Preface, Thomas give us some information on William Blake. We will be back next week with a discussion on Chapters 2-6.

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Commonplace Quotes:

We do not obtain the most precious gifts by going in search of them but by waiting for them. Man cannot discover them by his own powers and if he sets out to seek for them he will find in their place counterfeits of which he will be unable to discern the falsity.

Simone Weil

No, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a little of hell in it–no plan to retain this of that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go, every hair and feather.

George MacDonald

A poet is not a man who says “look at me”, but rather a man who points at something and says “look at that.”

C. S. Lewis


by Philip Larkin

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day–

And the countryside not caring:
The place names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat’s restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word–the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

Book List:

The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald

The Personal Heresy by C. S. Lewis and E. M. Tillyard

The Aeneid by Virgil

The Divine Comedy by Dante

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

The Holy War by John Bunyan

Ourselves by Charlotte Mason

A Preface to Paradise Lost by C. S. Lewis

The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake

Paradise Lost by John Milton

Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis

The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis

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You can find Angelina and Thomas at HouseofHumaneLetters.com, on Instagram @angelinastanford, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ANGStanford/

Find Cindy at https://cindyrollins.net, on Instagram @cindyordoamoris and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cindyrollins.net/. Check out Cindy’s own Patreon page also!

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  • Angie Bunn

    Dear Angelina, Cindy and Thomas,

    I just wanted to send a message to thank you for your wonderful podcast which has enriched my literary life and has got me back into reading.

    Although I do listen to a few different podcasts, yours is my favourite one.

    I enjoy it because of the deep insights into the many variations of literature you choose to look at. I love the conversations the three of you have as you all gel so well together and seem to teach each other things as well as teaching your audience. You have enriched my reading very much.

    I recently bought a literary life tote bag which I will be using when I visit the libraries and book shops when they open again after the covid-19 pandemic. I cannot afford to become a patreon member as yet but I still wanted to contribute.

    I look forward to hearing many more episodes from you all and I hope I can one day soon be able to support you further.

    Stay safe and healthy,

    Love Angie, Cheshire, England, UK

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