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The Pilgrim's Regress

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The first book written by C. S. Lewis after his conversion, The Pilgrim's Regress is, in a sense, the record of Lewis's own search for meaning and spiritual satisfaction -- a search that eventually led him to Christianity.

Here is the story of the pilgrim John and his odyssey to an enchanting island which has created in him an intense longing 7mdash; a mysterious, sweet desire. John's pursuit of this desire takes him through adventures with such people as Mr. Enlightenment, Media Halfways, Mr. Mammon, Mother Kirk, Mr. Sensible, and Mr. Humanist and through such cities as Thrill and Eschropolis as well as the Valley of Humiliation.

Though the dragons and giants here are different from those in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Lewis's allegory performs the same function of enabling the author to say simply and through fantasy what would otherwise have demanded a full-length philosophy of religion.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
-- Chicago Tribune
"An excellent book. In its sharp imagery, its clever inferences, its suspense, its characterization, and its occasional grotesque humor, it stands favorable comparison with its great model by John Bunyan."

-- New York Times
"The allegorical characters are not just abstractions. They are, in every instance, people objectively real and subjectively true to the inner meaning. The language throughout is plain, straightforward and leanly significant. To many it will seem like a fresh wind blowing across arid wastes."

Chicago Tribune
An excellent book. In its sharp imagery, its clever inferences, its suspense, its characterization, and its occasional grotesque humor, it stands favorable comparison with its great model by John Bunyan.
New York Times Book Review
The allegorical characters are not just abstractions. They are, in every instance, people objectively real and subjectively true to the inner meaning. The language throughout is plain, straightforward and leanly significant. To many it will seem like a fresh wind blowing across arid waters.
Library Journal
In 1933, not long after he became a Christian, Lewis published this third work and his first novel, a portrayal of this spiritual journey. Begun as a poem, Pilgrim's Regress thankfully ended up as an allegory that obviously takes its cue from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Every bit as effective as its predecessor, Lewis's book describes the quest of John to reach the enchanted island and describes and satirizes many of the popular philosophies of the author's time, many of which also have more than a little influence in our day. Eloquent, erudite, and often witty, this tale is superbly narrated by Robert Whitfield. No stranger to the writings of Lewis, Whitfield has a well-modulated voice that easily portrays the numerous characters and gives the narrative sections a steady and consistent tempo. There are a number of Latin epigraphs, which are not translated. Public, religious/theological, and academic libraries should at least consider this audio. Michael T. Fein, Central Virginia Community Coll., Lynchburg Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802806413
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/28/1992
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 209
  • Sales rank: 243,618
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

(1898-1963) He held the chair of Medieval and Renaissance English Literature at Cambridge University in England. Among his many famous works are Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, the Chronicles of Narnia series, Miracles, The Abolition of Man, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, and Surprised by Joy.


C. S. Lewis was famous both as a fiction writer and as a Christian thinker, and his biographers and critics sometimes divide his personality in two: the storyteller and the moral educator, the "dreamer" and the "mentor." Yet a large part of Lewis's appeal, for both his audiences, lay in his ability to fuse imagination with instruction. "Let the pictures tell you their own moral," he once advised writers of children's stories. "But if they don't show you any moral, don't put one in. ... The only moral that is of any value is that which arises inevitably from the whole cast of the author's mind."

Storytelling came naturally to Lewis, who spent the rainy days of his childhood in Ireland writing about an imaginary world he called Boxen. His first published novel, Out of the Silent Planet, tells the story of a journey to Mars; its hero was loosely modeled on his friend and fellow Cambridge scholar J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis enjoyed some popularity for his Space Trilogy (which continues in Perelandra and That Hideous Strength), but nothing compared to that which greeted his next imaginative journey, to an invented world of fauns, dwarfs, and talking animals -- a world now familiar to millions of readers as Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book of the seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia, began as "a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood," according to Lewis. Years after that image first formed in his mind, others bubbled up to join it, producing what Kate Jackson, writing in Salon, called "a fascinating attempt to compress an almost druidic reverence for wild nature, Arthurian romance, Germanic folklore, the courtly poetry of Renaissance England and the fantastic beasts of Greek and Norse mythology into an entirely reimagined version of what's tritely called 'the greatest story ever told.'"

The Chronicles of Narnia was for decades the world's bestselling fantasy series for children. Although it was eventually superseded by Harry Potter, the series still holds a firm place in children's literature and the culture at large. (Narnia even crops up as a motif in Jonathan Franzen's 2001 novel The Corrections). Its last volume appeared in 1955; in that same year, Lewis published a personal account of his religious conversion in Surprised by Joy. The autobiography joined his other nonfiction books, including Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Great Divorce, as an exploration of faith, joy and the meaning of human existence.

Lewis's final work of fiction, Till We Have Faces, came out in 1956. Its chilly critical reception and poor early sales disappointed Lewis, but the book's reputation has slowly grown; Lionel Adey called it the "wisest and best" of Lewis's stories for adults. Lewis continued to write about Christianity, as well as literature and literary criticism, for several more years. After his death in 1963, The New Yorker opined, "If wit and wisdom, style and scholarship are requisites to passage through the pearly gates, Mr. Lewis will be among the angels."

Good To Know

The imposing wardrobe Lewis and his brother played in as children is now in Wheaton, Illinois, at the Wade Center of Wheaton College, which also houses the world's largest collection of Lewis-related documents, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

The 1994 movie, Shadowlands, based on the play of the same name, cast Anthony Hopkins as Lewis. It tells the story of his friendship with, and then marriage to, an American divorcee named Joy Davidman (played by Debra Winger), who died of cancer four years after their marriage. Lewis's own book about coping with that loss, A Grief Observed, was initially published under the pseudonym N. W. Clerk.

Several poems, stories, and a novel fragment published after Lewis's death have come under scrutiny as possible forgeries. On one side of the controversy is Walter Hooper, a trustee of Lewis's estate and editor of most of his posthumous works; on the other is Kathryn Lindskoog, a Lewis scholar who began publicizing her suspicions in 1988. Scandal or kooky conspiracy theory? The verdict's still out among readers.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Clive Staples Lewis (real name); Clive Hamilton, N.W. Clerk, Nat Whilk; called "Jack" by his friends
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 29, 1898
    2. Place of Birth:
      Belfast, Nothern Ireland
    1. Date of Death:
      November 22, 1963
    2. Place of Death:
      Headington, England

Table of Contents


  1. The Rules
  2. The Island
  3. The Eastern Mountains
  4. Leah for Rachel
  5. Ichabod
  6. Quem Quaeritis in Sepulchro? Non est Hic


  1. Dixit Insipiens
  2. The Hill
  3. A Little Southward
  4. Soft Going
  5. Leah for Rachel
  6. Ichabod
  7. Non est Hic
  8. Great Promises


  1. Eschropolis
  2. A South Wind
  3. Freedom of Thought
  4. The Man Behind the Gun
  5. Under Arrest
  6. Poisoning the Wells
  7. Facing the Facts
  8. Parrot Disease
  9. The Giant Slayer


  1. Let Grill be Grill
  2. Archtype and Ectype
  3. Esse is Percipi
  4. Escape


  1. The Grand Canyon
  2. Mother Kirk’s Story
  3. The Self-Sufficiency of Vertue
  4. Mr. Sensible
  5. Table Talk
  6. Drudge
  7. The Gaucherie of Vertue


  1. First Steps to the North
  2. Three Pale Men
  3. Neo-Angular
  4. Humanist
  5. Food from the North
  6. Furthest North
  7. Fools’ Paradise


  1. Vertue is Sick
  2. John Leading
  3. The Main Road Again
  4. Going South
  5. Tea on the Lawn
  6. The House of Wisdom
  7. Across the Canyon by Moonlight
  8. This Side by Sunlight
  9. Wisdom-Exoteric
  10. Wisdom-Esoteric
  11. Mum’s the Word
  12. More Wisdom


  1. Two Kinds of Monist
  2. John Led
  3. John Forgets Himself
  4. John Finds his Voice
  5. Food at a Cost
  6. Caught
  7. The Hermit
  8. History’s Words
  9. Matter of Fact
  10. Archtype and Ectype


  1. Across the Canyon by the Inner Light
  2. This Side by Lightning
  3. This Side by Darkness
  4. Securus Te Projice
  5. Across the Canyon
  6. Nella sua Voluntade


  1. The Same yet Different
  2. The Synthetic Man
  3. Limbo
  4. The Black Hole
  5. Superbia
  6. Ignorantia
  7. Luxuria
  8. The Northern Dragon
  9. The Southern Dragon
  10. The Brook
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2003

    A Life Changer

    If I had to name one book that changed my life this would be it. An allegory that amounts to a brilliant philosophical treatise so packed it would have taken Aquinas about thirty books to write. You'll find everyone from Paul and Luther to Freud within its insightful pages. In CS Lewis' skillful hands, it takes the form of a simple children's story. The two main characters, Vertue and John, are symbols of CS Lewis' own conflicting ideas and yearnings as he struggled through the philosophical terrain. This book will change your perspective on life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2001

    A wonderful journey through Lewis's symbolism.

    The Pilgrim's Regress is a fascinating allegory about a boy named Jon. This book is not for the weak-hearted. Packed with more symbolism than one person could digest in a lifetime, The Pilgrim's Regress is not a light read. It would take ten minutes per page to decipher the sometimes hidden yet often clearly evident meanings of names, places, and events of this book. One person might read this book and see merely a quaint story about a boy's journey to enlightenment. The serious reader will find divine truths about life, love, and diety. I highly recommend this book. I gave it four stars only because it lacks the clarity of Lewis's other books. Otherwise, I feel it would have been worthy of five bright stars.

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    Posted November 12, 2008

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    Posted June 11, 2009

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