7/31/2019

“The Pilgrim’s Regress”: The Allegory of C.S. Lewis’s Conversion

"During the thirty-one years that C.S. Lewis practiced Christianity, he offered three stories—or variations on a single story, depending on the angle one wishes to take—regarding the reason for his conversion. Critically, too, the three stories overlapped and played off one another. The first, the fulfillment of his paganism—and paganism in general. The second, his regress from modernity. And, third, the persistence of joy.
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Though drastically uneven in its ability to convey Lewis’s successes (and failures), The Pilgrim’s Regress possesses not a dull moment, though, in parts, it is viciously scathing toward opponents of Christianity and those whom Lewis disliked. Upon writing it originally, he claimed to be mocking “Anglo Catholicism, Materialism, Sitwellism, Psychoanalysis, and T.S. Eliot.”[3] At times, the book is gentle, and, at times, brutal, especially in its descriptions of immorality and its attacks upon ideas and persons Lewis disliked. “The sole merit I claim for this book is that it is written by one who has proved them [his opponents] all to be wrong,” he explained in 1943. “There is no room for vanity in the claim: I know them to be wrong not by intelligence but by experience, such experience as would not have come my way if my youth had been wiser, more virtuous, and less self-centered than it was.”[4] Lewis believed, in the interwar period, that while all of the various schools of thought hated one another, they set aside their personal dislikes for their general hatred of anything that seemed, however slight, romantic, dismissing romanticism as mere “nostalgia.”[5]"