The Screwtape Letters: Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil
~C. S. Lewis
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4.5 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0006280609
Manufacturer : Fount|
Release data : 02 February, 1998
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Insightful piece of text; read and re-read.
This is my third read from the CS Lewis Signature collection and my first thought was 'wow he's done it again!' As an English student, I take great joy in reading any good literature (for which this book certainly is), but more so what Lewis manages to accomplish time and time again in his works is the way in which complex ideas or arguments are laid out in a clear and readable manner. You may not agree with all of his ideas but you will certainly appreciate the way in which his thoughts are organized and in line with true-to-life examples. As such the book is must read regardless of one's religious persuasion.
As a Christian however, this book is not only a good read and example of great literature but incredibly insightful. Lewis demonstrates through Screwtape's letters to Wormwood the constant battle that takes place in the spiritual realm for the individual soul and the eternal truth of Christ's victory on the Cross; it is a topic which is not often discussed in the Church, I guess partly because we don't want to be spooked out and prefer to dwell on the pretty Scriptures, and pretty they are, for they are truths. However Lewis' shows that an awareness of the Enemy hatred for the Christian is a knowledge which, in some way is imperative to the understanding of the Father's love for His children and the grace we receive as a result. The demonic assignments of Screwtape and Co over the individual Christian's life is not as grand as destroying the Christian soul or changing his eternal destination; that is impossible since Christ's blood seals our redemption, thus what the letters shows is the ways in which God, having made us in His own image has also made us an individual and the Enemy's attempts to destroy that individuality. Lewis dwells quite a bit on this and I thought it was interesting esp. in relation to societal pressures in society to conform to the ever elusive 'ideal'. He gives many examples of this but one which stuck incredibly with me was his simple illustration of how individuality can be lost by affectation e.g. picking a book to read not because you are genuinely interested in it but because it talked about by so and so, make you appear clever etc.
There are many things which I can say about this book but in the end I can simply recommend it and say that it is one that must be read and re-read because the wisdom and truths in it is something that we need to constantly reminded of.
A must-read classic of the 20th century.
C.S. Lewis is clearly one of the masters of 20th century prose. His theological ideas are very succulent in their purpose and while I may not agree with every doctrinal belief of his, the essence of his message is a very pure one - fulfilment comes only from submitting your will to the Father, through loyal service, dedication, and love (which He very happily returns to you in limitless abounds).
"The Screwtape Letters" is a collection of epistles from the senior devil Screwtape to his junior 'tempter-in-training' nephew, Wormwood. The contents of Scewtape's letters are various discourses on how to spiritually influence the tempter's human "patient" into staying as far away from God as possible.
Through this devil's advocate style of writing, we are given a very interesting glimpse into the workings of the evil one and how he can gradually pull people away from the Father through subtle tactical advances.
Many times through reading Screwtape's letters as he discussed the behaviour of Wormwood's patient, I would have to stop myself and think, "Wow, I have acted exactly the same in that situation before" and Lewis begins to open up your perception of your own behaviour with an accurate objective commentary of our human thought processes - and the way in which they can be turned against us, e.g. how realising one's own humility can easily turn into a form of spiritual pride.
Most surprisingly, was a passage where Screwtape discusses how God's only desire is for every human being to become exactly as his Son is, to the point where they realise that they are themselves sons and daughters of God. Lewis definitely understands the very core of Jesus' teachings, no matter how much Christianity has corrupted them over the years.
Fiction-wise, all of the characters mentioned are given to us in brief glimpses at different times in the book, to the point where while there may not be large amounts of detail on them all, you could give a good description of each at the end of reading the entire book.
Some of the more "story" focused elements are quite fun, and give us a glimpse into the 'mythos' that Lewis has obviously given some thought to before writing the "Letters". While some events are quite enjoyable, even humorous at times (such as when Screwtape's momentary anger causes him to involuntarily transform into a giant centipede) I felt slightly disappointed that there weren't more plot elements or details of this demonic "world" that Lewis' characters live in - although perhaps this was to preserve the authentic tone of the letters and the fluidity with which the book progresses.
Overall, some passages touched me so deeply that I would have to ponder on them for some time before continuing on. I must admit that some of Lewis' ideas were so profound; they went over my head completely (I'm only 17 and have no qualms about admitting that I still have much more to learn, spiritually and intellectually). I hope that with future re-readings of this book (which for me, there most definitely will be!) I will pick up on things I had missed last time and, with hope, have a few more moments of inspired revelation.
This is most definitely a classic which should be read by everyone, religious or not. It will open up your mind to many philosophical ideas about the nature of human beings and the psychological way in which we perceive spirituality.
For those looking purely for a fictional reading experience, this one may be a little scant on details to satisfy your curiosity.
I have no hesitations in recommending this book with a stellar 5/5 stars.
Some wit and insight but way too repetitive. Mostly for Christian readers.
It seems here like everybody absolutely loves this book. Whilte it does have some witty moments of insight, I found the book to be enormously overrated.
The allegorical form of writing, as letters from a demon to another demon, gets old pretty quickly and it gets extremely repetetive and frankly quite boring. Way too much time is spent on how to tempt humans away from Christianity, and to a non-Christian, those long portions of texts are completely uninteresting.
Lewis does make some good points about human behaviour in general that are both witty and insightful, but those are exceptions and for the most part "The Screwtape Letters" is quite boring. The novella would have been good if it was about one third as long and not be so centered on Christianity. Christians will probably enjoy it more than I did, though.