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The Screwtape Letters

Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil

Author(s)
Published
12/04/2012

Publisher writes

A milestone in the history of popular theology, 'The Screwtape Letters' is an iconic classic on spiritual warfare and the power of the devil. This profound and striking narrative takes the form of a series of letters from Screwtape, a devil high in the Infernal Civil Service, to his nephew Wormwood, a junior colleague engaged in his first mission on earth trying to secure the damnation of a young man who has just become a Christian. Although the young man initially looks to be a willing victim, he changes his ways and is 'lost' to the young devil. Dedicated to Lewis's friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkien, 'The Screwtape Letters' is a timeless classic on spiritual conflict and the invisible realities which are part of our religious experience.

Author Information

C. S. Lewis

Born in Ireland in 1898, Clive Staples Lewis gained a triple First at Oxford and was Fellow and Tutor at Magdalen College from 1925-54, where he was a contemporary of Tolkien. In 1954 he became Professor of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge. C. S. Lewis was for many years an atheist, until his conversion, memorably described in his autobiography 'Surprised by Joy': "I gave in, and admitted that God was God ... perhaps the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." He is celebrated for his famous series of children's books, the Narnia Chronicles (which have been filmed and broadcast many times), as well as his literary criticism and science fiction. C. S. Lewis died on 22nd November 1963.

Judges' and contributors' comments

Gwen Adshead: One of the best books to support and guide the ordinary Christian on an ordinary Christian journey. The book  started as a series of ‘letters’ published weekly in The Guardian in 1941 and were collected into a book at a later stage. For those who do not know it, the book is a fantasy of what a correspondence between a senior devil and a junior devil might look like. The subject of the correspondence is how best to tempt people away from religious life; it is Lewis’ first attempt to use a fantasy to convey an important message about the experience of practicing Christian living.

Of the many reasons I like this book is that it is psychologically acute and insightful, especially about how human relationships. I also like that its most important message is that only God can makes real and lasting pleasures, pleasures that we can be part of if we recognise His presence with us and within us.

In a later addition (‘Screwtape Proposes a Toast’) C.S Lewis comments how hard it was to get into, and stay inside, the mind-set of Screwtape, to embody in writing the anti-Christian perspective on human life. I can only imagine how true this is, and I am therefore especially grateful to C.S Lewis for his efforts to support ‘mere Christians’ everywhere and grateful for his witness across the years.

Toby Hole: It’s hard to choose one Lewis book over another, but The Screwtape Letters with its tremendous mix of narrative imagination and popular theology is the one that I have read most often and would be the first that I would recommend to any new Christian.

Bradley Smith: A classic that should be a compulsory read for all people exploring a vocation (or a perfect confirmation gift for a teenage boy!).

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