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A Great Read
on 17 October 2017
I have read this book a few times over the years and every time I re-read it I find it more humorous. This kindle edition has the letters and then as a bonus the later piece by CS Lewis, Screwtape Proposes A Toast.
An epistolary novel you don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy this, which I think has caused some misunderstanding and led to people not reading this in the past. What we have are a series of letters from Screwtape, a demon, to his demonic nephew Wormwood, who is tasked with bringing an average Englishman into the Satanic fold.
Why this works so well is that it is deeply funny and quite cynical. Although we don’t see letters from Wormwood we can guess that his ideas are along the lines of outright and extravagant sinning, whereas Screwtape proposes something a lot subtler. Thus, whilst for instance Wormwood is gloating over the Second World War Screwtape is rightfully worried, as if for instance someone dies in the fighting before being fully brought over to his side, then they have lost a person, and have lost that soul.
We thus end up with religious thought here and demons trying to work out not only the behaviour of God, but of humanity, making for some very good insights into the way we behave and what we think.
Screwtape Proposes A Toast is the demon giving a speech, and this looks at changes in educational procedure and other items that were relevant at the time and that Lewis wanted to address. In all then we have here a very thoughtful as well as a funny book, that should give anyone reading it pause for thought. Whatever religious persuasion you are, or an atheist this still makes for a wonderful read, and shows the author on top form.