Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Place of Afterlife expiation where, according to Catholic doctrine, sinners are purged by a period of disciplinary suffering before admission to Heaven. It is often assumed as a "given" in Christian Fantasy. Dante's Purgatorio (see also Taproot Texts) has the classic depiction: a conical mountain with successively higher circular ledges where various degrees of "refining fire" are joyfully submitted to – the 1955 Dorothy L Sayers (1893-1957) translation adds useful Maps. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1933-2017) annexe Hell as the "violent ward" of Purgatory in Inferno (1975), allowing even the damned a slim chance of Heaven. C S Lewis's The Great Divorce (1946) considers a similar opportunity but focuses on purgatory as a transition rather than a place – a stripping-away of comforting spiritual baggage like selfishness or excessive sexual desire. Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality sequence fuses purgatory with Limbo as a painless but dull region where the celestial civil service toils eternally (see As Above, So Below). [DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.