Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Screwtape Letters

by C.S. Lewis
New York: HarperCollins, 2001 (orig. pub. 1943).

Screwtape, an old demon, writes letters of advice to his nephew Wormwood, who is on assignment tempting a young man with the ultimate goal of bringing his soul to Hell.

This has long been one of my favorites of Lewis' works, and a friend's recent read of it for a class prompted me to pick it up and reread it along with her. To my surprise, I found that though I've owned a copy for over a year, I have not reread it in the last six years or so (when I started tracking my reading). As a result, it didn't have the same sort of immediate familiarity of a yearly reread; it was more a gradual recognition as I read a letter and thought, "Oh yeah, I remember that now!" I had a lot of fun revisiting the book: it's at once humorous and hard-hitting, even convicting. The essay at the end, "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" was, if not entirely new, one I had forgotten entirely. In it, he talks about the way in which the idea of "democracy" can be twisted in education, and I was really amazed at how prescient some of Lewis' predictions were.

I've been debating whether or not I would recommend it to someone who didn't share Lewis' faith, and ultimately I would say, if the conceit interests you, then go ahead and try it, but I think that like his apologetic works it would really interest and have the greatest impact on those who already agreed with a Christian worldview.

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