This 1933 novel — Lewis' first published fiction — charts the progress of a fictional character through the philosophical landscape before eventually arriving where he started at traditional Christianity. It is Lewis's personal revision of John Bunyan's 17th century novel, Pilgrim's Progress, recast with the politics, philosophy and aesthetic principles of the early-20th century. As such the character struggles with the modern phoniness, hypocrisy and intellectual vacancy of the Christian church, communism, fascism, and various philosophical and artistic movements. It balances Lewis's neoplatonic mindset with a Kierkegaardian faith-based understanding.
It is interesting to note that Lewis' character finds that many philosophical roads ultimately lead to a fascistic nihilism that he associates with Nordic Viking culture -- his explanation of the then flourishing Nazi movement and other fascist governments of World War II. This also highlights his own attraction to paganism and Norse mythology as his first spiritual awakening that led him to Christianity (as detailed in Surprised by Joy), while acknowledging the darker potential elements of paganism as well.
Pilgrim's Regress was originally panned by critics. In a footnote of the biography on Martyn Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 by Iain Murray, Murray notes the following: "Lewis is said to have valued ML-J's appreciation and encouragement when the early edition of his Pilgrim's Regress was not selling well. Vincent Lloyd-Jones and Lewis knew each other well, being contemporaries at Oxford. ML-J met the author again and they had a long conversation when they found both themselves on the same boat to Ireland in 1953. On the later occasion, to the question, 'When are you going to write another book?', Lewis replied, 'When I understand the meaning of prayer'."
First edition published by J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd., London