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The Great Divorce: A Novel Answer to an Immodest Proposal
Well before Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone debuted in 1959, C. S. Lewis wrote a fantasy novel that crossed over “into another dimension” not only of sight, sound, and mind, but of soul. Published during the latter days of World War II as The Great Divorce, A Dream, Lewis tells the story of a fantastical flight from the twilight of an infernal nightfall to the daybreak of an eternal sunrise, dividing Hell and Heaven in perhaps the most profound “twilight zone” episode never produced.
Originally entitled, Who Goes Home? Or The Grand Divorce, Lewis remarks in his preface how he drafted his vision of the final separation between Heaven and Hell as a reaction to William Blake’s nineteenth-century Menippean satire, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. While Lewis greatly admired Blake’s poetic artistry and genius, he objected to his proposed marriage of the demonic to the Divine as a “disastrous error” 1 of thought due to its presumption of an impossible union between good and evil—as if a plighted devotion to decadence could ever lead heavenward, or else its inverse, that walking the blessed path to holiness means that unholy habits need not be left wholly behind.
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