Monday, August 12, 2002

"Leaf by Niggle" and The Great Divorce
Both books, in a sense, address the question of purgatory, or at least the process of becoming worthy of Heaven. Is one better than the other? That depends on how direct you like your theology. "Leaf" is certainly the most explicitly religious work by Tolkien, but there is still a great deal of hesitancy [note to Nihil Obstat: I got it right this time.]. The most explicit part--and the one that makes me most uncomfortable--is the Shepherd character. Lewis, however, is much more direct. I prefer the indirect method and therefore like "Leaf" better. Not that I don't love "The Great Divorce." Besides being more indirect, however, "Leaf" is also more literary, more well-crafted and more subtle. On the first reading it takes quite a while to figure out what is really going on. Then you experience this exilarating joy. I also think the closing bit with the "kins" is a great dénouement, providing a great contrast with what Niggle has just been through.

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