by C.S. Lewis
I read Lewis\’ Narnia books over and over when I was young. It was years before I realized the stories were based on Christian theology, and I didn\’t read any of his nonfiction works until I was in college. This was the first one I opened. The Screwtape Letters is a collection of imagined epistles that a senior devil writes to his younger nephew, Wormwood. The letters include lots and lots of advice, but not from the usual perspective- in this case, Screwtape is coaching his nephew in the craft of tempting human souls into evil. Lewis has plenty to say about good and evil, flaws in human nature, and various moral issues. What makes it all so interesting is to examine this from such a backwards perspective, one that in encouraging evil, proposes to show the reader how to guard against it. There\’s also a sort of portrait of one ordinary man that Wormwood is focusing his efforts on. Through the young devil\’s appeals for advice and Screwtape\’s criticism of his technique, an vague picture is formed of this one man\’s life- how his soul alternately wavers and progresses in his journey through life. There really isn\’t much plot in this book, although I was surprised at how humorous it could be, and the two devils do develop a certain amount of character. I would say its main interest is in the theology, and the wry examination of human nature.
Rating: 3/5 209 pages, 1942