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The Screwtape Letters (with Screwtape…

The Screwtape Letters (with Screwtape Proposes a Toast) (1942)

by C. S. Lewis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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A series of satirical letters from the head devil to a lesser one about how the younger devil might go about corrupting a person who is serious about trying to lead a spiritual life.
  PendleHillLibrary | Sep 14, 2017 |
This short little book (160 pages)took me 5 days to read. That isn't because I wasn't interested but I found I had to read some passages two or three times to grasp what Lewis was saying. At other times his writing was very easy to understand and I enjoyed his sense of humour.

The idea of the book is that a senior devil, Screwtape, is giving pointers to a junior devil, Wormwood (you have to love the names given to the devils), about how to encourage a young English man to sin in order that his soul will belong to the devil upon his death. The time is during the Second World War and this young man has recently started attending church. For a while it looks like Wormwood will succeed as the young man falls in with a crowd who are "thoroughly reliable people; steady, consistent scoffers and wordlings who without any particular crimes are progressing quietly and comfortably towards" Hell (our Father's house as Screwtape refers to it). Then the young man falls in love with a Christian woman ("...such a Christian--a vile, sneaking, simpering, demure, monosyllabic, bread-and-butter miss") and the plans start to unravel. Screwtape gets so exasperated with Wormwood at one point that he turns into a large centipede.

As the book proceeds a clear picture of the struggle between good and evil is drawn. "It does not matter how small the sins provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."

C.S. Lewis was an atheist who converted while at college and described himself as "the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England". That may be but he went on to write some wonderful books that illuminate thoughts decades later. If you ignore the references to the Germans the time could almost be now with war in Iraq and Afghanistan and many other places. Even if you are an atheist (or an agnostic as I am) you can't help but worry about where our world is headed. As another Englishman, Edmund Burke, said "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing." ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 9, 2017 |
enjoyed it although it was hard for me to get through it ( )
  longhorndaniel | Jul 19, 2017 |
From Amazon:

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a classic masterpiece of religious satire that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to "Our Father Below." At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.
  St-Johns-Episcopal | Jul 16, 2017 |
Okay...so I've probably tried to read this book at least ten times over the years and never actually finished it. I started the book again this week and even tried the audio version by John Cleese on Youtube--didn't get very far as I kept thinking about Fawlty Towers, which I happened to have watched relatively recently, and therefore couldn't take him seriously as a devil.

I'm now analysing what it is about this book that I don't like as I usually know straight away. I'm wondering if I'm not sufficiently intelligent for the mental gymnastics required to see things from a demonic perspective. That does seem to be one of the stumbling blocks as I examine and re-read each sentence carefully reminding myself that I'm now Screwtape and that he is bad which means that everything is reversed.....But is that the key issue--my non-Lewis like brain power?

I mean, I should like this book for all the obvious reasons--it's meant to raise awareness of Satan's work, prevent Christians from falling to temptation, encourage Christians that God is more powerful and that the demons know it etc etc. So what exactly is my problem?

I guess I don't like the idea of a Christian author putting himself into character as the devil--apparently Lewis himself felt uncomfortable, maybe with good reason. I think the humourous, satirical approach undermines the deadly serious subject matter--the battle between good and evil is eternal life and death for all people whether they acknowledge it or not. Maybe Screwtape (despite the author being at pains to avoid this,) will still remind people of caricatures of the horned devil in a red-suit with a pitchfork as he rubs his hands together gleefully whilst composing his letters to Wormwood. Is that a helpful image considering the subject matter?

John Cleese recently stated that he didn't think much of organized religion and told he was not committed to "anything except the vague feeling that there is something more going on than the materialist reductionist people think." The fact that Cleese, a secular comedian and atheist (or at least agnostic) was able to read The Screwtape Letters aloud and find it amusing without apparently being convicted by its content probably speaks volumes more than I could write.

Oh, maybe I do know why I don't like this book after all. I think I will just accept that now and stop attempting to read it.

( )
  sparkleandchico | Jun 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963), hoogleraar literatuurgeschiedenis, schrijver van kinderboeken (de Narnia-verhalen) en apologeet van het christelijk geloof, heeft grote naam gemaakt met zijn 'Brieven uit de hel', waarin oom Schroeflik tegenover zijn neef de waarheden van het christelijk geloof omdraait en ze beschrijft als belemmeringen voor inlijving in het rijk van de duivel. Op paradoxale wijze en in een stijl die nog niets van zijn levendigheid heeft verloren, wordt hier een klassiek geworden apologie van het christelijk geloof gegeven. Toegevoegd is 'Schroeflik heft het glas'. Het nawoord en de aantekeningen zijn van de vertaler. De laatste vertaling dateerde uit 1947; deze vertaling is uit 2002 en sluit dus beter aan bij het hedendaagse taalgebruik. Paperback; normale druk.

added by karnoefel | editBiblion recensie via Bol.com

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
C. S. Lewisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schreuder, J.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.'
-- Luther
'The devil . . . the prowde spirite . . . cannot endure to be mocked.'
--Thomas More
To J.R.R. Tolkien
First words
My dear Wormwood, I note what you say about guiding your Patient's reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please do not combine this LT work with any abridged edition, or with any edition that omits Lewis' additional piece, "Screwtape Proposes a Toast." Each of these variants should be combined only with similar LT works. Thank you.

Please note that some works titled simply "The Screwtape Letters" also contain "Screwtape Proposes a Toast". If your edition is combined here and should not be then please be certain to check and, if need be, correct your ISBN before separating. The following ISBNs are of editions titled "The Screwtape Letters" but known to also contain "Screwtape Proposes a Toast":
  • 0060652896
  • 0060652934
  • 0684831171
  • 0805420401
Publisher's editors
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
"Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself; the Enemy wants a world full of begins united to Him but still distinct."

Thus is the eternal war for the soul of man explained by Screwtape, a professional devil and  self-described undersecretary of the department of temptation. His brilliantly conceived letters to his nephew Wormwood - a "junior temptor" - sparkle with the suavity of satanic logic and resound with the lofty, near cynical humor which invaluable accompanies a deep-sated knowledge of the human psych.

The Screwtape Letters gradually unfolds as  series of explicit directions adn plans through which Wormwood - may subvert and twist human soul to his own diabolical ends. Fascinating in its cunning and incredibly acute awareness of the flaws and foibles of man, this small masterpiece had been by millions since C S Lewis wrote the first letter for a newspaper during World War Two.
Haiku summary
Dearest Diablo,
Hope this letter finds you well.
Your servant, Screwtape.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060652934, Paperback)

This adaptation of C.S. Lewis's biting satire received a 1999 Grammy nomination for best spoken-word performance, and it's easy to see why--the story fits the format perfectly. It's relatively brief (the unabridged reading takes a mere four hours), and contains only one character--the demon Screwtape, who writes letters to his novice nephew Wormwood, instructing him on how to best tempt his "patient" (a wayward soul on earth) into the bosom of "our Lord below."

Obviously, the book wasn't written with former Monty Python John Cleese in mind, but it's hard to imagine a better Screwtape. Cleese's voice provides the perfect vehicle for Lewis's dry, razor-edged wit. His uncanny comic timing and ability to milk each phrase for maximum effect betray an infectious enthusiasm for the story. It's clear that he's having a great time reading, and it's impossible not to laugh along with him. This inspired pairing of two of the 20th century's greatest wits makes for a meditation on the dark side of spiritual guidance that's as relevant and funny today as it was in Lewis's war-torn England. (Running time: 4 hours, 3 cassettes) --Andrew Neiland

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:51 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

In this humorous and perceptive exchange between two devils, Lewis delves into moral questions about good vs. evil, temptation, repentance, and grace.--From publisher description.

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