I am thrilled to be able to share a review today of C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. This is a review I have looked forward to writing and feared I couldn’t possibly do the work justice. Screwtape is a modern day classic and is so powerful that it’s difficult to form my own words about the satire.
I am fascinated by The Screwtape Letters. This reread was especially enjoyable for me because I read most of it out loud to my husband. It was so neat to read and discuss the letters together. I think this experience bodes well for future Lewis read alouds.
I am only slightly beyond Lewis novice status. I love The Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve read this book several times. And I have listened to The Great Divorce. I just pulled The Four Loves from my shelves to read next. And I aspire to read Till We Have Faces, Out of the Silent Planet, and more. But really, I’m mostly a naive fan right now. But I already admire Lewis’ writing, his faith, and his ability to write such compelling books. This year I’m trying to read more Lewis and I’m quickly finding this will be more of a lifetime pursuit.
- If you are a Lewis novice or want to branch out from Narnia (which I love and cannot recommend highly enough), this is a great place to start. Yes, it’s more dense than Narnia but it is still telling a story. And I think we can all see ourselves in the descriptions and temptations of Uncle Screwtape.
- I know there is a great audiobook out there that I’ve listened to before. If you find the text a bit dense, I recommend trying the audiobook.
According to Goodreads, “A masterpiece of satire, this classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles, seen from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” 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 epistolary style is fascinating–both eerily solemn and laugh out loud funny. I really enjoyed it! There is something so compelling about letters being exchanged between demons. If only we had the other side of the exchange. Sometimes I wondered what Wormwood wrote that prompted such intriguing responses from Screwtape. Regardless, his intensity and humor are both so real. In some ways, we get a different side of our narrator because he is writing letters. He is more candid, more condescending, more intriguing in letters than perhaps he would be in a narrated conversation. And with his unique perspective on the fight for faith, Screwtape was utterly fascinating.
Screwtape is such a complex character in ways I haven’t seen in many other characters. To read such a sophisticated account of the other side’s fight against Christianity is so compelling, so unique. And the protagonist is what drives the entire work. He is loyal yet fierce, understanding yet judging, a mentor yet a demon. He is fascinating. At times, I nodded in agreement with the way he describes the most effective temptations or distractions. I have seen some of those in my own life! At others I felt my jaw drop as he explained the purposes of patience or the way demons can distort service. He is an expert in his field and reading his letters had me thinking about faith and God long after I finished the last page.
I was struck by the long, ever changing journey that the patient and all humans go on to find faith, love, and God. Being baptized is not enough to be truly converted. Faith is a process, a life long process. At each step of the journey, Screwtape had advice about hindering the patient’s progress–focus on himself, focus too far outward, judge others, rationalize bad choices, and more. There is never a moment when people of faith are simply stagnant. We are always moving forwards or moving backwards. I enjoyed the way Screwtape discusses how to keep us from faith and how faith can be twisted. But I also appreciate the opposite side of
Wow, CS Lewis is incredible. I am blown away by his poise and his candor in this book. It offers a fascinating discussion of Christianity and God from a unique perspective. This book has stuck with me long after finishing the final letter. I can’t recommend this highly enough. This is a book for Christians, for patriots, for family members, for all humans.
What do you think of The Screwtape Letters?
What is your favorite work by C. S. Lewis?