5.0 out of 5 stars C.S. Lewis: Tough Reading, and Tough Lessons
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...
Published on Feb 5 2003 by Dave
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written
Overall a well written book that does however start to get a bit tedious. A reply from Wormwood or correspondence with other demons might have livened up the book. Words about the war and hinting of inderlying problems between Screwtape and his nephew went nowhere. I was hoping for a level twist like that in the story "Flowers for Algenon".
Published on Dec 28 2003 by Peragulator
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written,
This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)Overall a well written book that does however start to get a bit tedious. A reply from Wormwood or correspondence with other demons might have livened up the book. Words about the war and hinting of inderlying problems between Screwtape and his nephew went nowhere. I was hoping for a level twist like that in the story "Flowers for Algenon".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well-Written, But Extremely Boring,
This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)...It is very well-written, and the premise is interesting. However, I found it so boring I could hardly pay attention. C.S. Lewis does make some good points, but he really beats them to death. The reason I'm rating the book two stars instead of one is that it really is very well-written, in spite of being extremely boring.
5.0 out of 5 stars C.S. Lewis: Tough Reading, and Tough Lessons,
This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)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!
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb,
This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)You've got to read the Screwtape Letters!
It's fascinating. The spiritual insights are so rich and deep.
You'll never think about spiritual evil the same way again.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating novel with rich characterizations,
This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)This is a classic piece of Christian fiction. You will not be disappointed but challenged after reading this delightful book.
5.0 out of 5 stars DEVILISHLY CLEVER!,
This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)Leave it to C.S. Lewis to do the undoable--write an epistolary novel from Hell's vantage that delights as much as it educates, and illuminates even as it sends cold chills up your spine. But Lewis was a genius, and The Screwtape Letters is literary proof.
Written as a series of letters from old devil Screwtape to his apprentice nephew, Wormwood, Lewis's novel tells the story of Wormwood's increasingly desperate efforts to ensnare the soul of a young Englishman during World War I. Through this correspondence we follow Wormwood's "patient" through conversion, to doubt, love and his ultimate fate. The novel's suspense comes from the question of whether or not the young man will actually escape becoming a midnight snack for Wormwood, and besides being a genuinely fun read the novel is packed with ingenious observations about innumerable human fallacies: from lust to "falling in love," to cowardice to fanatic patriotism, piety to self-righteousness. One of Lewis's great literary gifts was his ability to pinpoint the subtle flaws in human nature that most of us probably don't think twice about but which we may end up regretting for all eternity. His eye for the touch of evil in the most seemingly innocuous areas of life lets Lewis hit all the major spiritual pressure points with amazing--and sometimes painful--accuracy.
Deliciously funny as only a grand parody can be, yet likewise terrifying in its implications, The Screwtape Letters is a must-read for everyone who ever even thought about religion. A magical novel of wisdom, encouragement, and dire warning, The Screwtape Letters has my wholehearted recommendation.
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful faith book,
This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)C.S. Lewis writes the ultimate Christian primer -- telling his readers how best to be faithful Christians by showing us how we should NOT behave! Screwtape, a high level denomic bureaucrat, is advising his neophyte demon nephew Wormwood on how to win over to "Our Father Below" his "patient," a new Christian who must be wooed away from "the Enemy," who is, of course, God. What makes this book so profound is that the temptations Screwtape suggests to Wormwood are not just the obvious ones, but the subtle ones that get to us everyday, sometimes under the guise of "doing good." How many of us, for example, have gotten into arguments with a loved one over who was being more unselfish -- "I don't want pepperoni on the pizza, but go ahead, have pepperoni, I don't mind." "No, I insist. No pepperoni, even though I love it so much, because I know you hate it." "No, please, have the pepperoni, darn it!" And so the resentment builds. It is this sort of sin and temptation that Screwtape urges Wormwood to play upon his hapless "patient."
But Screwtape knows his "enemy" and he knows his limits. My favorite line, and one well worth hanging on to for all of us who feel we have lost hope: "Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys" (p. 40). And never forget. The demons never deny the existence of either Father or Son.
4.0 out of 5 stars More Diverting Than Funny,
This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)I picked up this book because it was recommended to me as very funny and, having been a huge fan of The Chronicles of Narnia as a child, I wanted to read an example of C.S. Lewis's overt literary argument for Christianity. I thought I might find a Christian counterpoint to Twain's Letters from the Earth. I'm afraid I was somewhat disappointed.
The Screwtape Letters is an epistolary novel with the central conceit being that C.S. Lewis has recovered letters of advice that a Demon from the depths -- Screwtape -- had written to one of his foot soldiers -- Wormwood -- whose job it was to stick by a mortal and suggest certain lines of thought to him and exaggerate certain emotions in key moments, leading him astray. We are only privy to Screwtape's letters, and it is through his criticism of his apprentice's efforts, and his advice, that the reader is to divine the mortal's story, the efforts of Wormwood, and the nature and methods of Evil and Good.
But Screwtape is Evil, and thus his advice may not necessarily be intended to help his charge, and I think we are to take The Screwtape Letters as an investigation into the psychology of Evil as it reveals itself in the mischievous advice. The difficulty in knowing which advice is straightforward is illustrative of Lewis's epistemology, "A great human philosopher nearly let our secret out when he said that where Virtue is concerned 'Experience is the mother of illusion' ...." -- which is also a dig at the modernist concept of the untrustworthy author. In the final analysis there's not much you can do with liars outside of laugh at them. Hence, "A more modern writer -- someone with a name like Pshaw -- has, however, grasped the truth."
And Lewis obviously had a lot of Dickensian fun with his demons' names, "Toadpipe", "Triptweeze", "Glubose", "Slubgob" and "Slumtrimpet", and there are some pretty funny lines like "Only the learned read old books and we have now so dealt with the learned that they are of all men the least likely to acquire wisdom by doing so." And "Do not let us be infected by our own propaganda."
There are also compelling lines like "Humans are amphibians -- half spirit and half animal." and "For the present is the point at which time touches eternity." But in my opinion, to be honest, the book is really not all that funny. It is interesting, very well written, and even describes a profound vision of human psychology. But it is not particularly funny. It is humorous, but not Catch 22, At Swim Two Birds or The Magic Christian belly laugh funny. You end up finding yourself quietly amused.
I suppose we are warned, the two epigrams at the start of the book refer to scorn and contempt, not humor: "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. And "The devil .. the prowde spirite .. cannot endure to be mocked." -- Thomas More. It all reminds me of St. Augustine's vision of the saved gloating over the torments of the damned. (St. Augustine also had some insights into the psychology of man.)
In fact, in Screwtape Lewis suggests the best method with which to corrupt man is to make him feel like he is doing good, being Christian, when in reality he is only doing so to feed his own pride, his own vanity. Unfortunately, I think more Christians will feel the sting of this critique in Twain's Letters from the Earth than they will in Screwtape. I'm afraid that Lewis inadvertently helps the "saved" feel comfortable in their self-regard, which, of course, would be terribly ironic, but not terribly funny.
This edition also includes Screwtape Proposes a Toast, which was initially an Op-Ed for the Saturday Evening Post attacking the leveling psychology of democracy, which Lewis sees as dangerous because it produces a type of person who "resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority." He considers this phenomena to be a banal version of envy, and predicts -- in the vein of Arendt -- a new mass of sinners who aren't of the great sinners variety, but damned by their lack of humility nonetheless.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent Look at the Devil,
This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)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. Other topics are covered here as well: sex, marriage, prayer, Christianity and lots more. The best part of the book, by far, is the toast Screwtape gives at the end of the book. Lewis uses this toast to launch one of the most vigorous and thorough attacks on democracy that I've had the pleasure to read. I never knew Lewis had it in him!!
A great book that should be read by a greater audience. I should make an effort to read more from this author. You should too. Recommended, with highest distinction.
5.0 out of 5 stars Lewis's unpublicized talent,
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This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)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 historically. You also enter a world where myth and fact mingle in suspicious ways, making the line between them difficult to see, suggesting that at least part of myth might be fact. Then you read the Screwtape Letters and realize that it is really too bad that Lewis did not write more satire. Because this is wonderful satire. Much of Lewis' thought is integrated within this wonderful correspondence between a senior devil and a junior fiend who has the responsibility of: a) keeping a human away from Christianity, and when that fails; b) making him inert. One cannot help but identify with the thinking of either the senior devil, the junior fiend or the human, at different moments. The letters are filled with observations regarding the relation of thought to faith, science and faith, honesty, honor and other values traditionally associated with faith, wrapped in a style that shows the author has given much thought to the great questions of humanity, but is able to boil them down to a satirical delivery. A Lewis that, regretfully, we don't get to read often enough. But a wonderful, wonderful Lewis.
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The Screwtape Letters by C S Lewis (Paperback - Jan 25 2001)
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