Quotes from The Great Divorce

C.S. Lewis ·  146 pages

Rating: (84.5K votes)


“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“Son,'he said,' ye cannot in your present state understand eternity...That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say "Let me have but this and I'll take the consequences": little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man's past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man's past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why...the Blessed will say "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, : and the Lost, "We were always in Hell." And both will speak truly.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“You cannot love a fellow creature fully till you love God.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“There have been men before … who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself… as if the good Lord had nothing to do but to exist. There have been some who were so preoccupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce



“Hell is a state of mind - ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind - is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“And yet all loneliness, angers, hatreds, envies, and itchings that (Hell) contains, if rolled into one single experience and put into the scale against the least moment of the joy that is felt by the least in Heaven, would have no weight that could be registered at all. Bad cannot succeed even in being bad as truly as good is good.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“First came bright Spirits, not the Spirits of men, who danced and scattered flowers. Then, on the left and right, at each side of the forest avenue, came youthful shapes, boys upon one hand, and girls upon the other. If I could remember their singing and write down the notes, no man who read that score would ever grow sick or old. Between them went musicians: and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done.

I cannot now remember whether she was naked or clothed. If she were naked, then it must have been the almost visible penumbra of her courtesy and joy which produces in my memory the illusion of a great and shining train that followed her across the happy grass. If she were clothed, then the illusion of nakedness is doubtless due to the clarity with which her inmost spirit shone through the clothes. For clothes in that country are not a disguise: the spiritual body lives along each thread and turns them into living organs. A robe or a crown is there as much one of the wearer's features as a lip or an eye.

But I have forgotten. And only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.

“Is it?...is it?” I whispered to my guide.
“Not at all,” said he. “It's someone ye'll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.”
“She seems to be...well, a person of particular importance?”
“Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”
“And who are these gigantic people...look! They're like emeralds...who are dancing and throwing flowers before here?”
“Haven't ye read your Milton? A thousand liveried angels lackey her.”
“And who are all these young men and women on each side?”
“They are her sons and daughters.”
“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”
“Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.”
“Isn't that a bit hard on their own parents?”
“No. There are those that steal other people's children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives.”
“And how...but hullo! What are all these animals? A cat-two cats-dozens of cats. And all those dogs...why, I can't count them. And the birds. And the horses.”
“They are her beasts.”
“Did she keep a sort of zoo? I mean, this is a bit too much.”
“Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”
I looked at my Teacher in amazement.
“Yes,” he said. “It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough int the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“No natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God's hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“I wish I had never been born," she said. "What are we born for?" "For infinite happiness," said the Spirit. "You can step out into it at any moment...”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce



“There is no other day. All days are present now. This moment contains all moments.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“No people find each other more absurd than lovers”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“We know nothing of religion here: we only think of Christ.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“If we insist on keeping Hell (or even 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.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce



“Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from the love of the thing he tells, to the love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal sufferring, "No future bliss can make up for it" not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“The sane would do no good if they made themselves mad to help madmen.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in 'the High Countries'.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce



“You can begin as if nothing had ever gone wrong. White as snow.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows. But will you come?”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it, or else, for ever and ever, the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce



“Good beats upon the damned incessantly as sound waves beat on the ears of the deaf, but they cannot receive it. Their fists are clenched, their teeth are clenched, their eyes fast shut. First they will not, in the end they cannot, open their hands for gifts, or their mouth for food, or their eyes to see.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


“Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives.”
― C.S. Lewis, quote from The Great Divorce


About the author

C.S. Lewis
Born place: in Belfast, Ireland
Born date November 29, 1898
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