The Screwtape Letters

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The Screwtape Letters is a satirical Christian apologetics novel written in epistolary style by C. S. Lewis, first published in book form in February 1942.[1] The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, a junior "tempter" named Wormwood, so as to advise him on methods of securing the damnation of a British man, known only as "the Patient".

Contents

Summary

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis provides a series of lessons in the importance of taking a deliberate role in living out Christian faith by portraying a typical human life, with all its temptations and failings, as seen from devils' viewpoints. Screwtape holds an administrative post in the bureaucracy ("Lowerarchy") of Hell, and acts as a mentor to Wormwood, the inexperienced tempter. In the body of the thirty-one letters which make up the book, Screwtape gives Wormwood detailed advice on various methods of undermining faith and promoting sin in the Patient, interspersed with observations on human nature and Christian doctrine. Wormwood and Screwtape live in a peculiarly morally reversed world, where individual benefit and greed are seen as the greatest good, and neither demon is capable of comprehending or acknowledging true human virtue when he sees it.

Versions of the letters were originally published weekly in the Anglican periodical The Guardian between May and November 1941,[2][3] and the standard edition contains an introduction explaining how the author chose to write his story.

In 1959 he wrote the sequel, Screwtape Proposes a Toast, a critique of certain trends in education.

The Screwtape Letters is one of Lewis' most popular works, although he claimed that it was "not fun" to write, and "resolved never to write another 'Letter'."

Both The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast have been released on both audio cassette and CD, with narration by John Cleese and Joss Ackland. A dramatized audio version by Focus on the Family was a 2010 Audie Award finalist.

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