|The Screwtape Letters (Gift Edition)
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In this humorous and perceptive exchange between two devils, C. S. Lewis delves into moral questions about good vs. evil, temptation, repentance, and grace. Through this wonderful tale, the reader emerges with a better understanding of what it means to live a faithful life.
Who among us has never wondered if there might not really be a tempter sitting on our shoulders or dogging our steps? C.S. Lewis dispels all doubts. In The Screwtape Letters, one of his bestselling works, we are made privy to the instructional correspondence between a senior demon, Screwtape, and his wannabe diabolical nephew Wormwood. As mentor, Screwtape coaches Wormwood in the finer points, tempting his "patient" away from God.
Each letter is a masterpiece of reverse theology, giving the reader an inside look at the thinking and means of temptation. Tempters, according to Lewis, have two motives: the first is fear of punishment, the second a hunger to consume or dominate other beings. On the other hand, the goal of the Creator is to woo us unto himself or to transform us through his love from "tools into servants and servants into sons." It is the dichotomy between being consumed and subsumed completely into another's identity or being liberated to be utterly ourselves that Lewis explores with his razor-sharp insight and wit.
The most brilliant feature of The Screwtape Letters may be likening hell to a bureaucracy in which "everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment." We all understand bureaucracies, be it the Department of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, or one of our own making. So we each understand the temptations that slowly lure us into hell. If you've never read Lewis, The Screwtape Letters is a great place to start. And if you know Lewis, but haven't read this, you've missed one of his core writings. --Patricia Klein
- Agree with Most Helpful Critical Review
I was hoping this version could replace my paperback copy; however, without the C.S. Lewis preface to the 1961 edition it is incomplete....more info
- The Ultimate Cautionary Tale
With so many books to read and so little time, I rarely go back to re-read even my favorite works. Years ago, I discovered The Screwtape Letters and was blown away. The other day I found myself skimming through it again, then settling down to dig deeply through this treasure trove of misinformation.
A senior demon, Screwtape, is writing letters to an underling and giving advice in the ways of bringing down mankind one person at a time. He speaks with disturbing clarity, marked insight, and insidious desire. He wants to feast upon the souls of all of us, while serving Our Father Below. In this twisted world, we see life from the side of evil. From this framework, God is the Enemy, and so the reading requires a constant attention to the subtle lies Screwtape is mixing in with his letters.
The insights we discover through this flipped script are unsettling and important. We see the follies of self-righteousness and even unselfishness. We see through the schemes used to divide man and woman, the ploys of twisted pleasure, and the cyclical trap of pride/humility/pride. Every page brings revelation in this ultimate cautionary tale.
I'm a fan of Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, Space Trilogy, Mere Christianity, and The Great Divorce, but this title is still one of the most mind-blowing, yet accessible, books I've ever read. And re-read. And, most likely, will read again....more info
- Read this book, again and again.
Some books can only be read once and then forever forgotten. Some need to be read more than once, and they will still strike us afresh everytime we come back to the books. "Screwtape Letter" definitely belongs to the latter category. Other than the literary style of the book, which is very "tickling" (in a good sense), I will recommmend the book to be treated as a kind of "manual" to discern divine truths from false and half truths. The book will train our thoughts not just to stay positive, but more importantly to stay godly. The book does so by making us aware of how often we have been obtusely blinded by devilish thoughts.
- Very interesting way to present some profound truths
This is the second time that I have read this book. The first time was as a youth a very long time ago and it had a positive impact on me. I decided to reread it and see what additional insights it would bring into my life. It was clearly worth the few hours of my time it took to read this book. The device Lewis uses is very clever and forces one to look at sin, pride, and mediocrity from a totally different viewpoint. It becomes clear that it's not the big mistakes we make in life that really hurts us; sometimes those are the things that cause us to reevaluate our lives and repent. The things that really hurt us are the pride and the accumulation of little sins. Lewis seem to really be pushing for greatness of soul. Bottom line is this little book made me think about my life. That is what a good book should do.
The book also includes the essay, "Screwtape Proposes a Toast". This was written much later and instead of Screwtape writing letters advising Wormwood, he is at an awards ceremony at the school for tempters proposing a toast to future and past successes. It is basically a vehicle to complain about how the modern education system focuses on mediocrity. It also brings out some very good points to ponder.
I highly recommend this book to everyone. The principles espoused here apply to all people, religious or not....more info
- A theological satrical masterpiece, rich in consolation, and a number of belly laughs
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. ...more info
- A HUGE Eye-Opener!
"The Screwtape Letters" is perhaps my most favorite C.S. Lewis book. In it we read a series of letters from a "senior" demon to his "junior" temptor. And in it we learn all about the fine and subtle tricks that demons play on us. What makes this book so amazing (and quite honestly frightening!) is that as you read you begin to mentally check off each trick that you've encountered in your OWN life! By the time I finished this book, I was so convinced of its truthfulness that I started telling all my friends and family to read it (and read it carefully!) Read it yourself -- you'll be shocked, but you won't be disappointed....more info
- A Christian Essential
'The Screwtape Letters' is a brilliant book that should be read by every Christian or anyone else seeking to understand the nature of evil.
I first read this classic about 20 years ago. I thought it was great then and even better when I just reread it.
Written as a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood, this book paints an amazing picture of the tactics used to divert people from their walk with God.
As Screwtape writes: 'You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy (Christ). It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.'
Lest anyone come away with the false impression that Lewis is condemning card playing, that is not the point at all. He is talking about anything diverting one from his/her relationship with God being a potential problem.
This book is full of brilliant dialogue from the senior miscreant to the junior. It is a great eye opener about the types of things that can lead one astray.
Highly recommended....more info
- Screwtape Letters
An excellent book which shows how the "other side" thinks. Great writing! One of my favorites!...more info
- A Classic in Christianity
Of all of the fanciful worlds C.S. Lewis has created, this classic dealing with the realities of faith, Church, and the struggle between good and evil takes the prize. Often humorous, too-often right on target, The Screwtape Letters explores the journey of faith from the perspective of two demons. Wormwood, the novice demon, has taken on a new 'client' and receives advice from senior demon Screwtape. Lewis challenges the church's status quo and makes us think about whether we 'Christians' are really 'demons' at heart. Sometimes, it's hard to tell! You'll laugh and then you'll say 'hmmmmm'. ...more info
- Typical C.S. Lewis
There's not much that can be said that hasn't already been said about C.S. Lewis's books. I find I like them not only for the content and the method of presentation, but I can read a bit, think about it, lay the book down and go back to it whenever....more info
- Best Book Ever On Christianity
This is a book that really makes you think how Satan can get into people;s minds on a daily basis, in a way that they don't even see coming, & they can't be constantly on guard because they aren't even aware that it is subtly going on. Even Chrisitians have to be on guard, all of the time. When I read this book, I thought it was the most chilling book I had ever read & still is because it is so true to life....more info
- The Screwtape Letters
The book arrived in good time and in good condition. Am pleased with the total transaction....more info
- A Call for Reflection
In the preface to Lewis' final appearance of Screwtape, Screwtape Proposes a Toast, the author provides a terrific description of what his previous involvements with Screwtape included. Referring to his time authoring The Screwtape Letters, Lewis states "The world into which I had to project myself while I spoke through Screwtape was all dust, grit, thirst and itch...It almost smothered me before I was done. It would have smothered my readers if I had prolonged it." After reading this work, it is plausible that many would see the truth in these statements.
As humans, it is relatively easy to recognize when one is acting, thinking, or living inappropriately. This might be true because of the concept of the human conscience. Lewis, however, brings a new perspective to the human conscience while offering the idea that it is driven by purposeful direction guided by the influences of good and evil. Although, in this particular work, the words good and evil might be more subjective than one is accustomed to.
Reading this work is a rare opportunity to reflect upon the choices made by each individual as life is lived through the means of a brilliant author speaking as a diabolical fiend. The idea of reading the letters of one tempter to his apprentice seems reminiscent of childish fantasy. Quite to the contrary, this work is powerful on level after level and certainly intended for mature minds. This work is yet another masterpiece in Lewis' collection and, if fully appreciated, has the potential to change lives.
- Long and tedious even though it's under 200 pages
This is an incredibly dull book. I was forced to read it for a religion class and I can't believe there aren't more bad reviews of it. It is very tedious and the wording is old, making it all the more hard to read. I am not a hugely religious person and I would never recommend this book to a friend, possibly an enemy, but never a friend. If you're having sleeping problems, this book would be a great remedy....more info
The genius of this book astounds me. C.S. Lewis is somehow able to teach valuable lessons on every page while speaking as a demon. And it makes you laugh, too. The reader is smiling one moment and squirming at an uncomfortable recognition of self the next. The book is fairly short and could be a quick read, but you will want to stop and digest each letter for a while before moving on to the next. Excellent for a study group.
Amanda Hamm, author of Dear Jane Letters...more info
- Funny (and Serious) as Hell !
Like all Lewis' works, this book is full of insights into human life - into those aspects which are often too big and obvious for us to notice. These insights are given us directly from the enemy through the writings of a devil named Screwtape. He writes to his nephew (a novice tempter devil) about his nephew's "patient," a human struggling with faith, who is a representation of us. This book bettered my attitudes about people and life and faith by orders of magnitude! I recommend it to everyone!!...more info
- Still amazing...
This book was great, it's particularly interesting how screwtape gets more overt with his utter disdain for his nephew. It was an absolutely fascinating read.
C.S. Lewis is still amazing....more info
- Wonderful fiction, another Lewis classic
It's awfully hard to criticize anything Lewis writes. I wish there were "half stars" to give, as I'd like to reserve 5 stars for mind-blowing, life-changing books; Screwtape isn't that, although at times it comes close. I've also read this before, so perhaps its effect was lessened in the re-reading.
In any case, Lewis' use of the devil-to-devil communication as a way to approach truth and sin is wonderful, fun, and a bit disturbing at times. In other words, it was everything a good book should be. As always, I have to take some theological issue with Lewis' views on the eternal security of the believer, as well as the Catholic and Anglican doctrines of purgatory and limbo; but these are small issues, easily discerned by even fairly new Christians.
At its heart, Screwtape is a cautionary tale of good things gone wrong. Over and over, Lewis paints a good thing abused and turned into a bad thing. It's like a handbook for modern culture, even written fifty years ago....more info
- Couldn't be better!
I own the older version narrated by John Cleese and this version by far surpasses it. Joss Ackland's voice is spot on for the role of Uncle Screwtape. I have learned more about avoiding vice and applying virtue than I care to admit after listening to this....more info
- Very Good Premise
In "The Screwtape Letters", author C.S. Lewis sets out to tale the story of two demons attempting to keep a man from finding and keeping faith in Christ. Such a premise could easily have turned into a silly and not particullary interesting book. However, Lewis actually does a fantastic execution of his preimse. It held my interest. Lewis tales the story through letters written between the villians and weaves in some interesting commentaries on friendship, spiritual growth, and even the Second World War (I believe the book was finished in about 1941 or so though the particular edition I read had some later material as well). The writing is good and fans of Lewis will probably enjoy this work greatly. Overall, a fine book that I was glad I took the time to read....more info
- Insights on The Operation of the Realm of Darkness
Though seemingly humorous in style, there is an intense sense of sobriety behind every scene that C.S. Lewis depicts to illustrate how the devil operates to tempt us. The background is World War II England. The object that the devil preys on is a young Christian. The circumstances of temptation; all of which are something we can relate to everyday, vary from personal devotional time, personal relationships, romance, and vocation to culture, worldviews and the war itself which the readers would discover to be the means to a happy ending for the young Christian, not a usual one, however. The appendix entitled, "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" deals with a more general strategy that the realm of evil formulates in their quest to ruin mankind by pushing them to the deepest abyss their depravity is capable of, "to harden these choices of the Hell-ward roads into a habit by steady repetition, ... to turn habit into a principle." Another interesting strategy is to wreck havoc in the culture by twisting the meaning of the word "democracy" from a narrow strict sense to a broad one.
The reason why Lewis does an excellent job in giving us the insights on the operation of the realm of the devil is because he understands human beings and culture well, which makes this book deeply personal, worth reading and learning from.
- Makes you think!
Ever wonder what separates us from God? This book will give you some hypothetical, all though theologically sound ideas as to how Saten and his dominion run chaos on earth. This book will make you take a look at how you think about how you are influenced by the secular world around us, and our reactions to it. Are we tempted in ways we have never thought about? It is easy to think of being tempted by money, lust, self-pity... but what about being tempted by the mundane, the obvious, the everyday? What about being tempted/preoccupied by the ails of the world at large, yet being soured by the needs of the person that lives next door to you? Does that seem to little or unnecessary? Or perhaps... if everyone chose to help and care for the person next door, then eventually the people a half of a world away would feel that influence? C.S. Lewis' novel is timeless and is must read for anyone who is finding new interest in the Christian faith, or has been a Christian and would like to understand the aspect of temptation even more....more info
- Devils' Devices
In The Screwtape Letters CS Lewis writes of devils and their work, appealing to anyone with an intrest in the purpose of life and in how to succeed in that purpose. In his preface he explains that many symbols of devils and angels produce an undesirable effect. He gives examples such as, "The humorous, sensible, adaptable Mephistopheles has helped to strengthen the illusion that evil is liberating." (9; Revised Edition Preface) It was Lewis' intent to avoid this error. While CS Lewis's depiction of devils is not proven to be true, he successfully uses diction and characterization to appeal to our emotions to build a sense of the evil of devils and appeals to the readers' logic to guide us to our own conclusions on how to protect ourselves from the devils.
Lewis's first appeal to emotion is made in the effective diction of Lewis's preface, "Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar," (6; preface) The connotation of the term devils is distinctly evil, thus Lewis gives us a prejudice toward them. Lewis furthers this prejudice with his use of the term liar, indicating that the devil is not to be trusted.
Lewis's second appeal to emotion comes in his characterization of the devils as prideful. In the 31st chapter Screwtape expresses his victory over Wormwood "I have always desired you, as you (pitiful fool) desired me. The difference is I am the stronger," (145; ch.31) through this Lewis shows us one form of Screwtape's pride. This pride, the pride of one looking down on another, leads us to further distrust Screwtape.
It is easy to see the pride of one looking down on another, thinking himself better, but Lewis doesn't confine the devils to a single form of pride. In the 1st chapter he introduces a more complex form of pride, "...oh, that abominable advantage of the Enemy's!"(8; ch.1) Here is shown the pride of the weaker or lower resenting the greater for his strength, and making excuses for his own weakness or failures. This pride shows us another shortcoming of the devils, thus Lewis deepens our distrust of them.
A second characteristic, which Lewis reveals in Wormwood's attempt to send the "Secret Police" after his uncle and mentor Screwtape as displayed in the 22nd chapter is disloyalty. This quality is echoed by Screwtape, "Love you? Why, yes. As dainty a morsel as ever I grew fat on." (145; ch.31) he further explains that because Wormwood had failed he, Screwtape, would get to in some way consume Wormwood. Screwtape displays his disloyalty as he is not upset at his nephew's failure, nor interested in his defense, but rather pleased at the prospect of gaining from Wormwood's punishment. Thus Lewis continues to build our feelings of the evils of the devils right through the final chapter.
Through the words of Screwtape, Lewis appealing to our logic explains the immediate goal of the devils, "the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy." (56; ch.12) One such example is given in the first chapter as Screwtape relates a story of one of his "patients" who he almost lost. This patient, prompted by God, had begun to think religiously, and instead of arguing Screwtape just convinced the man that he needed to go for lunch, thus breaking the line of thought(9;ch.1). Lewis uses this as an appeal to logic, leaving us to conclude that this separation is to our detriment, as it is what our enemy, the devils, desires. This is how Lewis continues to build a foundation for the views he would have us develop.
Lewis again appeals to our logic to guide us to a conclusion showing that the methods by which the devils produce their desired effect are numerous and varied; Lewis, through Screwtape, gives an example of just how varied they can be, "All extremes ... are to be encouraged. Not always, of course, but at this period. Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them yet faster asleep," (33; ch.7) the methods given are opposing, so Lewis builds the logical basis for the belief that the devils will do it any way that works. Throughout the work Lewis gives many examples of possible methods of the devils such as, "tortured fear and stupid confidence are both desirable states of mind," (67; ch.15) the devils would encourage either state of mind. So the logical conclusion is that we will be face a wide array of methods of temptation depending on the age in which we live, and the temptations to which we are most susceptible.
Lewis presents another method of the devils as Screwtape warns Wormwood of "strengthening in [his] patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues," (8; ch.1) and that he should not argue about "doctrines as primarily `true' or `false,'" (8; ch.1) thus we may logically conclude that in order to overcome the temptations of the devils we must think upon the eternities, and consider what is true and what is false. Perhaps this is why Lewis writes in such a way as to require personal thought, so we will think of what is true and false and thwart the devils.
Lewis gives further insight into the methods of the devils through the words of Screwtape, "The safest way to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,"(56;ch.12) So we know that the devils are not going to be overt. "Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick," (56; ch.12) Lewis, through the words of Screwtape, explains just how small an effective attack can be. Lewis's use of cards as a sufficient method shows just how subtle the way to Hell can be, as many would argue that the use of cards is not wrong at all, but it is what it leads to. If cards are all it takes to get someone to put God out of his mind, to disregard God's word, then it is sufficient, and the devils know it. So again he leads us to a logical conclusion: to protect ourselves from devils we must be aware of the small things that separate us from God.
Through all of this Lewis makes no conclusions. He leaves that to us. As we consider such things as, "So do not allow any temporary excitement to distract you from the real business of undermining faith and preventing the formation of virtues," (25; ch.5) we may learn more of how we should act, perhaps that we should do the opposite, but Lewis never says it. By leaving the conclusions to us Lewis helps us to form our own personal methods of protection, suited to our own strengths and weaknesses.
In his book, The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis successfully instructs us how to protect ourselves from devils. He carefully appeals to our emotions through his use of diction and characterization of the devils to convince us of a need to protect ourselves. He then gives us logical instruction, but he leaves the conclusions to us, allowing us to form our own methods of protection.
Wow! Very insightful book- makes you wonder! Anyone who likes CS Lewis will love this book! I will soon be buying the study guide so I can dig deeper into the text....more info
- Fiendishly clever and very insightful
C. S. Lewis was, without a doubt, one of the best writers of the century, and this book is C. S. Lewis at the height of his powers. It is clever, entertaining and insightful, at points even profound. At points you're almost tempted to take notes. People tend to think of "informative" and "entertaining" as opposites, or at least mutually exclusive. Lewis proves that that isn't true by writing a book that is both at the exact same time.
Some people seem think that this book is depressing or too heavy, but I don't think that's true. It's definitely not a dime novel or pulp fiction, and I suppose it does require a lot more thought than a lot of novels, but don't let that stop you. This book is wonderful satire that's not that hard to read.
If you've never read this book, I definitely recommend that you do so....more info
- Infernal Epistles
This is the third CS Lewis book I read (after Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain) and once again, I am mind-blown by this author. Lewis' wit is ever present in this volume too, and it's always a pleasure to read this excellent author. I truly believe he is a massive monument in intellectual history because of his theological writings.
The Screwtape Letters are basically letters written by a demon named Screwtape - he is an old senior demon - writing to his nephew Wormwood, a young demon sent to earth to tempt a human (the "patient"). He gives him advice on how to tempt humans. That may sound simple, but you have no idea of how intricate the tempting is. Along the way, Screwtape makes some very fine points about our modern world and its current ideology.
Much more than merely theological or Christian, this book possesses some really excellent psychological insights in human behaviour in groups and inner behaviour.
It's a relatively short read and is a really good one; it happens to be quite some fun as well. Lewis uses irony in seriously gifted ways and I never got tired of it, not to say that he over-uses it, not at all.
Definitely another Lewis classic....more info
- Great Book
This is a masterpiece. People just don't write like this anymore. If anyone told you not to get this book they are crazy. ...more info