I seemed to be standing in a busy queue by the side of a long, mean street. Evening was just closing in and it was raining. I had been wandering for hours in similar mean streets, always in the rain and always in evening twilight. Time seemed to have paused on that dismal moment when only a few shops have lit up and it is not yet dark enough for their windows to look cheering. And just as the evening never advanced to night, so my walking had never brought me to the better parts of the town.
In The Great Divorce, the writer, in a dream, finds himself in a bus which travels between Hell and Heaven. This is the starting point for an extraordinary meditation upon good and evil, God and sin, and the irreparable divide between Heaven and Hell — taking issue with William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. In Lewis’s own words, “If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven then we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”