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The Screwtape Letters [Hardcover]

C. S. Lewis
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1990

A masterpiece of satire, this classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life 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 gives us the correspondence of the ­worldly-wise old devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging and humorous account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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From Amazon

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 --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From Library Journal

Lewis's satire is a Christian classic. Screwtape is a veteran demon in the service of "Our Father Below" whose letters to his nephew and prot?g?, Wormwood, instruct the demon-in-training in the fine points of leading a new Christian astray. Lewis's take on human nature is as on-target as it was when the letters were first published in 1941. John Cleese's narration is perfect as he takes Screwtape from emotional height to valley, from tight control to near apoplexy. This will be a popular in most libraries.ANann Blaine Hilyard, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent Look at the Devil Feb. 26 2002
The only C.S. Lewis I had ever read up to this point was the Narnia series, when I was a kid. Those were great books that probably deserve a rereading at some point, even though I'm much older now. The Screwtape Letters find Lewis waxing on his favorite topic: Christianity. The book is a series of letters from Screwtape, a high-ranking administrator in Hell, to his nephew Wormwood, who is a tempter of man. The whole book is a wicked satire that Lewis pulls off well. Not only is this book fun to read, it has a serious message, too.
I found myself laughing quite a bit with this book, although the laughter tends to be the nervous sort of chuckling that comes from discomfort. Too many times I found myself described within these pages. Especially when Screwtape discusses the types of laughter found among man and how these can be turned to good use in gaining souls for Hell. The most useful type of laughter for Satan is flippancy, when man laughs because he can always see a ridiculous side to everything. It is most useful because men who do this will never take anything as seriously as they should, especially the "Enemy" (the term Screwtape uses to describe God). Another interesting chapter deals with Jesus and the tendency of moderns to try to define and describe Jesus in terms that should be alien to him. Screwtape delights in efforts to make Jesus a Communist, a social theoretician or a magician/philosopher. All of these efforts divert man from whom and what Jesus really was. Screwtape also cackles over intellectuals, who are corrupted by the historical point of view. Intellectuals don't look for truth in what they read; they analyze writing styles, context, and historicity. By not looking for the truth, they are confused and turned away from God.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars C.S. Lewis: Tough Reading, and Tough Lessons Feb. 5 2003
C.S. Lewis is an awesome writer, both with fiction and non-fiction. In the Screwtape Letters, as you already know, Screwtape is writing letters of advice to Wormwood, about how to tempt and otherwise pervert the ways of his "patient".
It can be tough, grueling reading at times, but it so perfectly illuminates the sinful side of everyone...and can be an indicator of what NOT to do!
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I often say that almost all of my theology comes from reading "The Narnia Suite," which I read for the first time at the age of eight, and more than a dozen times thereafter. I was particularly taken with The Last Battle, in which some people are very surprised indeed to learn that those they thought wouldn't be admitted into Aslan's Land because they fought on "The Wrong Side" of the aforementioned last battle, were in fact instantly admitted because it was their intention and their heart which was judged.

When I was a little older, someone gave me a copy of "The Screwtape Letters," and I have read it probably a dozen or more times over the years as well. Brilliant, allegorical, hilarious in parts, and filled with gentle wisdom, it is a theological masterpiece. I recall the first time I the letter in which one devil brags that he will soon win his first soul for the devil because although the man continues to pray, he doesn't believe what he says any longer. The older, wiser devil releases a stream of invective and explains the younger devil is an idiot, because doesn't the know that "those are the prayers that God loves best!?" How relieved I felt, as a young person, that there was a possibility God might still embrace me, even with all my doubts. Just one of the many gifts Lewis's work offers to those of us searching for a deeper relationship with God.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Astonishing Feb. 17 2004
I first read The Screwtape Letters at the age of 15, and two years later I've read the book countless times and continue to find deeper meaning in each reading. Lewis expertly reveals the devices used to tempt the unsuspecting human; and I'm sure I'm not the only one who realizes several more of their own blunders every time they pick up the book. The traps of temptation are laid bare as Lewis ruthlessly exposes the suble art of manipulation.
This book is highly philosophical, so don't pick it up when you're looking for some escape fiction. While some complain that the book lacks "excitment," I hold that you cannot blame a philosophical book for being just that: philosophical. All the excitement needed is in the intellectual stimulation and in the wealth of knowledge provided by this book. The seriousness of this subject is artfully highlighted with Lewis's characteristic wit and humor. This is a refreshing touch to the deep and somewhat disturbing questions Lewis dares to answer. If nothing else, The Screwtape Letters will force you to truthfully examine yourself. I highly reccomend this book anyone seeking Christian literature or philosophy. It is well worth the time you take to read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great book Dec 9 2003
When one first sits down to read Screwtape Letters, they will usually be baffled. You are sent straight into the middle of the story, as it seems. Young Wormwood, a junior tempter, has been assigned to his first patient. Patients are humans who have tempters inside their brains, so everyone is a patient of someone. Wormwood's job is to tempt people away from god. There is supposedly a tempter in everyone's brain, undetectable, who offers up suggestions and advice on actions the person is about to commit. All suggestions and advice are made so the patient will turn away from God, and all that is good, and toward Satan, and all that is bad. This is the basic premise of the story, yet it is much deeper. It delves into ones intellect and shows them ways that Satan catches us and tempts us.
Wormwood is the Nephew of an honored tempter, Screwtape. His Uncle Screwtape writes him letters on how to lead his patient away from God and toward sin, hence Screwtape Letters. He gives Wormwood ways to show his patient other ways of doing actions that could have bad consequences, though the tempter tries to block the thought of the consequences away from his patients thoughts. Screwtape answers Wormwoods questions about different scenarios and scolds him when he doesn't follow directions properly and lets the patient go toward The Enemy, or God.
In turn, this novel shows the reader how Satan is catching them and tempting one toward one of the seven deadly sins: anger, lust, gluttony, ect. After reading only a few chapters, one will soon come to realize their faults, which is why this book is so great. Screwtape Letters points out you wrong doings and tells of how Satan exploits them to his wishes.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by jaime
5.0 out of 5 stars Seem pretty insightful musings on the probable thinking and tactics...
Seem pretty insightful musings on the probable thinking and tactics employed by the devil and his demons against us humans
Published 3 months ago by William A. Bolduc
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read
A great read. offers a good object lesson. It serves my needs very well. I would recommend it to others.
Published 5 months ago by at one time disgrunteled
5.0 out of 5 stars C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis is a classic Christian writer, author and commentator. He is a delight to read and I would recommend this particular
book to anyone exploring the world of the... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Marilynne
4.0 out of 5 stars the devil made me do it
how to preach without preaching? a very interesting perspective on the oldest book in the world, told by the devils themselves
Published 16 months ago by Natasha Burger
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book but difficult to read.
I have heard many positive comments of this book and I approached it, expecting it to be brilliant. I have read the Lord of the Rings and I found the writings of Tolkien much... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Ronald W. T. Chao
5.0 out of 5 stars Lewis's unpublicized talent
When you read other work by Lewis, you are drawn to the clarity of style and thought and the ability to untangle complex issues regarding the validity of faith - now, but also... Read more
Published on Dec 6 2011 by SnowPharoah
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book About the Christian View of Demons
This book consists of thirty-one letters written from a demon (Wormwood) to his nephew (Screwtape) who is also a demon. Read more
Published on July 17 2004 by Ignatious Valve
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like C.S. Lewis . . .
. . . like I do, I strongly suggest We All Fall Down, by Brian Caldwell. Like Lewis, Caldwell takes an intellectual aproach to the concept of Christianity. Read more
Published on July 9 2004 by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars So that's what they're thinking
C. S. Lewis takes you into the mindset of a pair of demons named Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood, who connive to corrupt an unnamed British man living during World War II. Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by Paul Skinner
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