The Screwtape Letters
by C.S. Lewis
Published in 1942
Thibault’s Score: 3/5
The story is a series of letters exchanged by the demon Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood, offering advice about how to corrupt a human known as “the patient.” C.S. Lewis pretends that he found the letters and is republishing them, and explains at the beginning that because they are written by demons, their content is unreliable.
The publisher of the letters immediately makes an interesting observation about the patient (a stand-in for the average British man). “[the patient] has been accustomed, since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily true or false, but as academic or practical, outworn or contemporary, conventional or ruthless. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the church.” This critique, which would be valid of postmodernism which hadn’t yet been invented, immediately seized my attention. I believe that when people make bad choices they have often been mislead.
I found many interesting good tidbits, although the pure moralizing lost my interest very soon. For example, I found it surprising that the Christian author, C.S. Lewis, argues in defense of reason and against superstitious belief. He also argues that the form of humility where smart people pretend they are ugly or where beautiful people pretend they are ugly is damaging.
Although the style was very weird and moralizing, I actually enjoyed the screw tape letters. Valuable moral and philosophical insights are written in a very interesting and unusual way. My low expectations were broken. That being said, a lot of it is Christian apologetics.
Most of my articles are book reviews, but I also write about many other topics.