Though written by a
Christian apologist, The Screwtape
can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates keen insight into human nature
and (excuse the pun) devilish humor. In C. S. Lewis's epistolary novel,
the senior demon Screwtape advises his nephew Wormwood, a tempter in
training, about how to secure his "patient" for "Our Father Below."
Wormwood's job grows tougher as the initially lukewarm Christian, an ordinary man in wartime England, marries a devout woman. Wormwood hopes to tempt his patient into spectacular sins, but the more experienced Screwtape knows better: A gradual descent that the patient might not even notice is generally the more successful route.
Though Christian theology runs through the 31 letters, for the most part they are about human nature's susceptibility to selfishness, greed, confusion, misuse of sex and food, and giving up.
In a preface included
in some editions, Lewis said that the book was easy to write but not
fun, and he resolved never to write another Letter. An
invitation from the Saturday Evening
years later, however, persuaded him to write a brief addendum, Screwtape Proposes a
Toast, an after-dinner speech
Screwtape gives at the Tempters' Training College for young devils.
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