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  #1  
Old 07-12-2016, 09:37 PM
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Default The Pilgrim's Regress (1933)

I am going threw The Pilgrim's Regress right now. I was wondering if anyone would like to join me. The copy of the book I have has a rather long 3rd edition preface written by CSL 10 years after he wrote the original book, that is not in many editions avaliable.
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Old 07-13-2016, 12:34 PM
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I've read it before--parts of it more than once. When I first read it, I found parts of it difficult to understand because I wasn't familiar with all the philosophical and religious references, but I still enjoyed it.
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Old 07-13-2016, 08:24 PM
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In the preface in my edition Lewis first tell us what he means by romantic literature. Next he goes into what it is like to pursue ones Desires. Last he talks how he divided his world in the book into a North and South section, kind of like the left and right hemisphere of the brain.
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Old 07-15-2016, 04:34 PM
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In the first part or book of The Pilgrim's Regress, John ,the protagonist, is a young man and has to deal with his own sin. Lewis gives some interesting insights as to why we sin. It is a way to expressing doubt in the existence of God. In the end John falls into hedonism.
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Old 07-17-2016, 12:29 AM
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I really don't want to go in-depth about the the story for I don't want to be spoiler. In Book Two John, who has had a vision of a beautiful island, gives up his hedonism and moves on. He gives up all belief in God for He interferes in his quest.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:40 PM
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Timmy,
I just got an annotated copy at the Wade Center, and would love reading it through with you. Do you want to set up a reading schedule and then we can dig in and discuss?
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:49 PM
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Timmy, I'd be interested in reading through Pilgrim's Regress.

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Old 07-28-2016, 03:30 PM
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Benisse, I am now in book 3 and 4 (there are 10 books). John after being told by Mr. Enlightenment that belief in God is just wishfull thinking, Miss Reason shows him the fallacy of this thinking. John then finds Mr. Virture, Mrs. Kirk (the Church), then Mr. Sensible. All seems to be telling John how to live a religious life. Mrs. Kirk is an interesting person. She doesn't seem to represent the true Church but the institutional church. She is just telling John to get on board and she does everything else.

Anyhow I will wait for you to catch up Benisse.
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Old 07-31-2016, 12:12 AM
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Default Pilgrim's Regress Books 1-3

I just got through Book III, so here are my notes so far. I will break up my comments by Books.
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS ALERT

In "The Rules" (Book 1, Ch 1) there seemed to be a severe disconnect between the Steward as a person and the Steward as a representative of the Landlord. That made me sad; I liked him as a person, but his explanation of how the system worked was pretty opaque, and the card of rules seemed pretty negative and vague (Ch 2). I suppose that was religion as a system rather than a vibrant relationship with the Landlord, which simply mystified and put off John rather than leading him to truth.

(One of the things I most appreciate about my husband who retired from the ministry after 38 years is that his private face and public face are one and the same. His private walk with God is consistently solid, and even though he is retired now, he rises before anyone else to have extended time with the Lord.)

The description of the Island was beautiful (Ch2) and Lewis did a great job of describing John's longing; it really resonated with Lewis' descriptions of his encounters with Joy in Surprised by Joy. In contrast, when John's family encountered death (Ch2), there was no comfort or perspective or peace; no wonder John chose to seek the Island instead. Unfortunately he settled for an easy satisfaction fix in the arms of the brown girl. Getting distracted from his quest deadened his senses for joy until the window and the forest beyond where he first experienced the vision was like a graveyard to him. (Ch 4-6) In a way this reminds me of how Rilian first got mixed up with the Green Witch when he was seeking the serpent that killed his mother in the Silver Chair...

One part that I do not understand in this section before he decides to go on a quest for the island, is John's children by the brown girl. What did they represent, and why do they just fade from the story when he leaves Puritania?
------------------
Book II Thrill
Dante's introductory quote regarding false copies is a succinct summary for this book in which John seeks thrills and romanticized desire (disguised lust) rather than following his quest for the truth, beauty and purity of the Island.

It begins with false enlightenment: "Dixit Insipiens" means "the Fool says" which is a reference to Psalm 14:1, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' Foolishly John accepts what others tell him, and his quest is waylaid by the false teachings that
1. There is no Landlord
2. There is no Island other than physical romantic pleasures of the Halfways' and he pursues their enticing company rather than sticking with Vertue. By exchanging the truth for unsatisfactory substitutes, he gets farther and farther off course, and ends up with a mechanistic reaction to the fading pleasures of romanticism, and Zeitgeistheim ("habitat of the Spirit of the Age").
---------------------------------
Book III Eschropolis (Greek for "city of filth and obscenity")
[In my Wade Center annotated version of Pilgrim's Regress, CSL had made marginal notes for an edition for Richard Thornton Hewitt, one of his students in 1937. These notes plus other additional explanatory notes by David C. Downing, who edited this special edition, comprise a running commentary alongside the text.]

On Victoriana, CSL wrote: "These people are not individuals, though partly suggested by them, but tendencies. This one roughly Sitwellism on its worst side; it has a better one" (p.41 - the better one possibly was that Sitwell was a competent poet, acc to CSL) Apparently Lewis drew his inspiration for Victoriana from Edith Sitwell, used a similar argument ("all great singers are persecuted in their lifetime -- and I'm persecuted -- and therefore I must be a great singer.") in explaining her own greatness as a poet (p.42).

CSL's note on South Wind was that he was representing writers such as D.H. Lawrence in this portrayal of raw suggestive swamp literature. Glugly, CSL noted was suggestive of "the works of Gertrude Stein or Joyce's Anna Livia Pluribella [sic] or the surrealists, Dadaists etc." (p. 44)

Poor John! Things go from bad to worse ... and he becomes imprisoned and hopeless: "by dismissing both God and Sweet Desire as illusions (note p.50)," Freudianism strips him of hope. Fortunately Reason comes to his aid and defeats the Spirit of this Age just in time. Yay!
------------------

I like this book thus far although John is a rather passive protagonist; things happen to him and people talk to him, but he seems rather helpless. I hope to see him connect with someone who can mentor him and help him start to reason on his own and help him acquire enough discernment not to get drawn into fruitless connections and cheap copies of the truth.
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Old 09-24-2016, 07:30 AM
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Book 5 mostly deals with Johns time with a Mr. Sensible. The sensible life starts out ok but as time goes on it is always less and less. So John and Virtue continue looking for island that they feel is now across a huge Canyon. Mrs Kirk had offered to carry them across the Canyon but the refused thinking she was incapable. Going further in north in Book 6, they meet a Theist Cleric, A Humanist, and a Modern Philosopher. Though the three disagree with each other they are totally happy with each other and have no desire to find this island or cross the canyon. Beyond this three is a brutal savage who rule over dwarfs. He is not human and though hospital to guess his desire is to conquer. Lewis seem to say that living the Theist Cleric, the Humanist, and the Modern Philosopher life only leads to the savagery. They can offer man no hope.

Seeing no way to cross the canyon pass the Savage, John and Virtue turn back South. I originally thought the Canyon's edge was death, but now it seems to be that which prevents John from knowing God.
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