The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation, and triumph over it, ever written.
(P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"Lewis' satire is a Christian classic....[his] take on human nature is as on-target as it was when the letters were first published in 1941." (Library Journal)
St. Louis, Missouri
In the interests of full disclosure, let me say that I love C. S. Lewis. His apologetics helped my wife and I keep our sanity in the Episcopal Church and he was among the galaxy of writers who lead us toward the Catholic Church. His scholarly works are a delight to anyone interested in medieval literature. His slim guide to Paradise Lost is indispensible to a satisfying understanding of that poem. Oddly, I have never dipped into his fiction to any great extent, though I did have a third grade teacher who read us chapters from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
So when I didn’t enjoy Screwtape as much as I thought I would, I was perplexed. How could I not revel in Lewis’ customarily incisive separation of modern misperceptions from the ancient perceptions, insanity from sanity, the comfortable lie from the uncomfortable truth? Fittingly, it was Lewis himself who explained my dilemma.
Truth be told, he didn’t much like this book either. His confession appears in his short introduction to the last chapter of this recording, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”. This exercise in what he calls “diabolical ventriloquism” proved to be something he could write with the greatest of ease, but with the least enjoyment. “Though it was easy to twist one’s mind into the diabolical attitude” he writes, “it was not fun—or nor fun for long.” The “strain” of writing this book produced what he calls “a sort of spiritual cramp”. “It almost smothered me before I was done. It would have smothered my readers if I had prolonged it.”
Now I didn’t feel so bad. My reactions to Screwtape’s correspondence tallied with their author’s. I, too, felt that spiritual cramp. An overwhelming sense of the relentlessness of sin, an airless, trapped feeling that verges on claustrophobia. While Lewis was aware of this problem with his book, he was even more painfully aware of his inability to solve it.
Ideally, he admits, the book should have included Arch-angelical advice to the “patient’s” guardian angel. “Without this, the picture of human life is lopsided.” (A fine example of British understatement, that.) The problem is one of style. “[F]or the style would really be part of the content. Mere advice would be no good. Every sentence would have to smell of heaven”. In today’s world it was “a book no one could write”, for “even if you could write prose like Traherne’s, you wouldn’t be allowed to, for the canon of ‘functionalism’ has disabled literature for half its functions.”
A typically telling insight, combining faith and reason and scholarship and a complete and easy familiarity with the greatest writers—all delivered without pride or pomposity. All the things that make Lewis such a treasure to read and reread.
So, while I am grateful to Audible for offering this as a Daily Deal for a mere $1.95, and Ralph Cosham does a fine job as reader, I can’t give this one all the stars I thought I would. And, based on the evidence, I think Lewis would agree.
This work, as is stated within and elsewhere, was the most difficult for Lewis to write because of its grim nature and, as he has hinted, the ease with which he was able to write it. One reviewer wrote that Lewis' ego was "out of control" as he told a "thinly veiled story." I think the listener missed the point of the book. Lewis was writing a satire in an attempt to point out the many ways in which we selfishly assure ourselves of our own right actions - all the while possibly dooming ourselves and hindering others. I find it well thought out, well written, and very witty. I would be surprised if anyone who read/listened to this book did not find themselves analyzing their own lives for the same well meaning, but destructive, attitudes and actions depicted therein.
Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.
I expect to listen to this book again in the not-too-distant future, because I am sure I missed a lot that I can pick up on a second time. As it is, I see so many of Screwtape's character traits in people I know, as well as in myself. Reading this book was like looking into a mirror in which one hardly recognizes oneself until forced to look long enough to see what is truly there. So often what one sees is very scary.
Unlike Screwtape, we still have the option of changing our lives for the better. That, to me, is the huge lesson of this book
This was my third reading of Screwtape. The first two times I actually read the text, but the listen was equally enjoyable. I think I probably gleaned a bit more from reading myself, because the text is so rich and the depth of meaning so layered that in listening I fear I let some meaning slide rather than stop the recording and go back over various bits. Still, I would enjoy listening to this version several times over. The narrator is perfect, and never over-dramatizes the voice of Screwtape, which in my opinion would have been easy to do. This book is so psychologically rich, humorous, and poignantly honest that I believe anyone--fervid Christian and non-religious alike, would gain much from its study.
Bookworm genetically, writer by choice. Audio books have become a staple of my parenting, chores around the house, and long runs. 65+ titles and counting...
While listening to this book I found myself laughing out loud. 28 yo female not religiously educated and came away feeling uplifted. This book encourages me to think about life and living. Once in the book Screwtape refers to those who forget life is about music and dancing (fun) are just within reach of the devil for they have squandered their life! CS Lewis mocks the ritual of religion for wasting time on symbolism forgoing the true meaning of Christianity/Positive & Generous living. You do not need to be "Christian" to enjoy and draw from the universal message of this book.
What more can be said about C.S. Lewis,and particularly the Screw Tape Letters. This is smart, interesting, compelling, and useful to every individual.
It is important, and humorous at the same time. Genius.
Great reading of the book.
Look out! The Devil is everywhere.
Do not miss this book.
This book was a bit of a challenge to listen to because the ideas presented were so thought-provoking that had I been reading it, I would have re-read sections numerous times. It is a good length for the kind of book it is and well worth the time.
The structure of each letter.
I'm not sure I can compare this book to another, possibly reference the Bible. I also read Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde at the same time. Other great perspectives to suggest, not compare would be The Little Prince.
How comfortable he was in each role.
No laughing, no crying....you should read this as a family and reflect on its qualities.
This book is undeniably well written and intelligent. However, for someone like me who has no Christian background, it gets a little boring. While C. S. Lewis offers some wise insights into human nature in general, these are (to me) lost in a large body of thoughts about the Christian God's love for mankind, the correct and incorrect approach to prayer, humility, charity and so on. The literary device of putting these in the mouth of a devil loses its novelty after a short while. I have no doubt that Christians will be able to enjoy this book much more than I have, but if you're like me I wouldn't recommend it.
As for the narrator, he does a decent job, albeit somewhat monotonous; I've heard an excerpt from a version narrated by John Cleese which sounds much more lively, but Audible doesn't seem to have that one (yet?).
This satirical offering is spot on when it comes to exposing the vices of men. It could be comical if it wasn't such a weighty subject. It also reads as a modern day book because the underlying subject matter has not changed... the sinful desires of man. I can see why Lewis said he never had more enjoyment in any of his other writing. It is well worth a credit and I could listen fairly well at 2X speed. The narration was fine. Hope this helps. Later.
"A true modern classic"
Believe it or not, it's hard to review a book that is this good. How do you find the right words to express how compulsive the listening expirience becomes by the end? How do you convey just how much it has effected and changed you as a person? Expressions like 'entertaining', 'thought provoking' and 'razor sharp satire' just don't do it justice. All I can really say is this: buy it now!
"in the Devil's mind."
I throughly enjoyed this book. The satire is clever, consistent and funny from the first page to the last. It depicts, in a likely manner, if such thing is possible, the thinking of a devil. C.S.Lewis is a Christian but the book can be enjoyed by anyone.
"Classic and insightful"
Highly recommend. A book that will transform how you think. Lewis' captures a world we don't know in a way that makes it real and causes you to reflect on cynical opinions.
"How not to be Screwtaped!"
I've listened to this before, about 5/6 years ago. At that time I was just discovering C S Lewis and found this very amusing. I re listened to it today and, because my personal circumstances have changed since I first heard it, I now heard it as a cautionary tale, as clues to some of my thinking or behaviour! It truly opened my eyes to the possible adverse influences in my life!
So, if this is your first venture into C S Lewis, or the first time buying this in audiobook - this is a great listen. Either as a lighthearted piece, or as a 'How not to be Screwtaped' both are invaluable - Enjoy.
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