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The World's Last Night: And Other Essays

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  741 ratings  ·  67 reviews
“We are not the playwright, we are not the producer, we are not even the audience. We are on the stage. To play well the scenes in which we are "on" concerns us much more than to guess about the scenes that follow it.”

In these seven witty, lucid, and tough-minded essays, the famous,infamous Screwtape makes a special appearance, proposing a toast that brilliantly explores t
Paperback, 132 pages
Published November 4th 2002 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1960)
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2013 A
62nd out of 109 books — 12 voters
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Chronological Reading of C.S. Lewis
37th out of 67 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

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Great series of essays and assorted bric-a-brac from Jack:

Efficacy of prayer is not about getting what we want, c.f. Christ's plea to remove the cup ("Efficay of Prayer").

"Democracy" and the desire to be just average like everybody else inspires insipid mediocrity ("Screwtape proposes a toast").

Those who promote "culture" often brainwash goody-goodies into liking what they like ("Lilies that fester").

Alien life forms may be, may be fallen, and may be saved ("Religion and Rockets").

Christ may hav
Lewis takes a hard intellectual look at the topics of prayer, the Second Coming of Jesus, and other issues of faith in the collection of essays. His academic and philosophical perspective along with his renowned education give no way to arrogance. Instead, Lewis makes a set of logical yet humble arguments about his subjects to varying degrees. His haughtiest opponents could not, in good conscience, deny Lewis as the epitome of profound logic and beautifully executed argumentation. One of his mos ...more
On the efficacy of prayer -- does prayer work? Prayer is a request that may or may not be granted. Jesus prayed three times for the cup to be removed from Him but His request was refused. What is the purpose of prayer? God does not change His overarching plan, but His purpose will be accomplished in different ways based on the actions "including the prayers, of His creatures." Secondly, "On Obstinacy in Belief" Lewis explores the idea while people stick with a specific view. Thirdly, "Lilies tha ...more
Some of Lewis' best writing is found in his essays and letters. They're short and always pack a punch. Recommended.
Sep 24, 2011 Zachary rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
C.S. Lewis was at the top of his game here. Every essay is a thought provoking one, and most* are prevelent still to this day, even though he wrote them almost forty years ago.

*With the exception of Religion and Rocketry. When he wrote it everyone thought Martians were going to invade the next day, so the essay adresses how Christian should respond to a close encounter with a third kind (even possibly a fourth). So while it is still a fascinating read, it is (for the most part) academic by today
Jon Cooper
I'm not a cheerleader for CS Lewis, nor do I hold him up as the most capable apologist or expositor of Christianity in the 20th century; what's more, and this is not his fault (well, it sort of is), but I get frustrated at how so many people cherry pick what he says without realizing what he himself believed - it's a strange variation on keeping the baby while throwing out the bath water. I appreciate Lewis, and have enjoyed many of his books, notably "A Grief Observed." And I have loved and rer ...more
Timothy Stone
My favorite non-fiction writer, and favorite writer overall, is C. S. Lewis. His works are always interwoven with truth and wit. He could “outwit” anyone today that prides themselves on verbal combat, but without the cruelty that passes for snark from too many people.

In The World's Last Night and Other Essays, Lewis tackles several questions throughout the writings included therein. Elitism and humility, pride and jealousy, the dangers of authoritarianism degrading the gains won by democracy, an
Mar 21, 2014 Shelly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
So refreshing and wonderful to read C.S. Lewis once again. This quick read book contains some of his essays, as well as a passage from The Screwtape Letters. I particularly appreciated the very last essay titled "The World's Last Night", which explored the idea of Jesus' second coming. From that essay I have my new favorite Lewis quote, which I think I've already shared on here and written about on my blog, but will share again:

"Perfect love, we know, casteth out fear. But so do several other th
Brandon Wilkins
Herein one finds some very fine essays by C.S. Lewis. They are occasional in nature, addressing a variety of unrelated topics: 1- how prayer works, 2- why Christian faith isn't irrational, 3- what it does and does not mean to be cultured, 4- a 'toast' from Screwtape offering additional advice to neophyte devils on how to effectively tempt us mortals, 5- the nature of good work in society, 6- Christianity and the possible discovery of life on other worlds, 7- a defense of the second coming of Chr ...more
Miss Clark
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Just finished. I have to be in a "smart" mood for Lewis, and since I'm only occasionally smart - it took awhile. This collection of seven essays was terrific. I especially enjoyed, "The Efficacy of Prayer", "Screwtape Proposes a Toast", and "The World's Last Night". I'm amazed at how Lewis thinks. I love his examples, how he can take such terribly complex ideas and break them down so we regular dummies can "get it." Here's one for you , Lindsay. "We value Shakespeare for the glory of his languag ...more
When I read "The Abolition of Man", (having only read Mere Christianity) I felt that I had started in the wrong place. I was sure that I had just read Lewis’s best work outside of his novels. Maybe the low expectations that gave me helped, but "The World’s Last Night" has just gone above it on my list.

I'll quickly go through them more individually:

“Religion and Rocketry”- One of the latter essays in the collection, this one is at the bottom of my list. It came to the same conclusions I had alrea
Rex Libris
This volume is a collection of essays that are, to the best of my knowledge, notto be found elsewhere (with the exception of "Screwtape Proposes a Toast").

"Lilies that Fester" is a prophetic view of modern education and culture. The modern educational systems creates a "culture" that one can only be initiated into by particpation in the same system. What more, the system does not allow for independent thought, but requires adherence to the self-same created culture.

"Screwtape Proposes at Toast"
Aug 09, 2011 Ben rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
The World's last night contains seven essays that Lewis penned. My notes on the essays are below:

I. On the efficacy of prayer
1. Lewis opens with a few anecdotes about prayer. Once, on a day that he intended to go to the barber, in preparation for a trip to London, Lewis opened a letter informing him that he need not go to London. Therefore, CS almost put off the haircut, except he could not because of a constant voice telling him to get his hair cut. Immediately after entering the barber's sh
CS Lewis always presents me with a new way to think about the world. He takes positions I have otherwise scorned and forces me to give them the consideration they deserve.

I did not expect to find a philosophy of education in this book. I did not pick it up for that purpose. Still, as I read "Lilies that Fester" and "Good Work and Good Works," I found myself reconsidering everything I've believed and stood for in education. I'm not sure that I am ready to wholly revise my stance, but I am certai
I gather this collection of essays is no longer in print in this form. The title essay consists of Lewis's reflections on the end of the world, and it's worth the effort to find that essay. Lewis brings his signature clear thinking to a topic that has suffered from much muddled thought. His wonderful thoughts include an emphasis on Jesus' statement that we can't know when the end will come ("if you don't believe our Lord's words on this, then why do you believe he will come again"); an admonitio ...more
Lewis' essays are indispensable.

He repeats himself, of course, since he is not writing for such a collection, but writing occasional prose, usually in response to something stupid someone had said in public. I don't mind reading the same arguments again, or even the same metaphors; it's good to re-examine them.

Lewis is most famous for his defense of monotheism in general and Christianity in particular, but he also proves himself to be, in this little collection, a defender of liberty against t
Brittany Anne
The World's Last night is by far my favorite essay that Lewis has penned. I used it as a starting point, along with "The Last Battle" for my senior thesis on eschatological views Lewis incorporated into his writing. It's a must read for anyone wanting to start looking into their own views on how the world will "end".
Mary Catelli
Seven essays -- so to speak. One is Screwtape's toast.

Most on religious topics, though there's a heavy touch of apologetics to them, so they aren't solely of interest to his co-religionists. "Lilies That Fester" is about the teaching of literary appreciation and practical criticism to students not yet attending university, and the problem inherent therein. "Religion and Rocketry" on what, exactly, we could find in space and how it could affect -- or not -- religious beliefs. "The World's Last Ni
Very interesting book by C.S Lewis, he discusses many aspects of christian faith that seem obvious to christians, but are interesting when they are presented in a way that looks from the outside in on the assumptions that are made.
J. Alfred
Perhaps not Lewis' best, but a good sample of his capacities for thinking seriously about any intellectual or moral problem (no matter how ridiculous-- "Religion and Rocketry" is about the theological concerns that would occur should we ever meet sentient life outside of earth-- and Lewis thinks we won't), and also for bringing his extensively considered, personality-forming understanding of the gospel to bear on any question.
This is a good time to mention a guy named Heath McNease. He's a music
In this seven essay volume C.S. Lewis discusses several challenging questions with which the modern Christian must wrestle. The efficacy of prayer, the nature of good works, the meaning of the word 'religion,' the implications of extraterrestrial life, and the doctrine of the Second Coming are all explored with concise lucidity. Lewis doesn't claim to have answers, but he does have some intriguing thoughts.

"The Efficacy of Prayer," "On Obstinacy in Belief," "Lilies that Fester," "Screw
Warren B
Wonderful! Great little collection where you can see Lewis' maturity as a thinker progress over his career.
These seven essays are mostly about religion, but some only tangentially. One is written in the voice of everybody's favorite senior demon, Screwtape. The others are more straight-forward essays on the efficiency of prayer, the meaning of "good work," etc.

Despite the lack of cohesion in the collection, each essay is individually pretty good. Lewis has an incredible ability to start with simple ideas and build them up into startling conclusions. His philosophizing never feels too airy or detache
The essay on the obstinacy of unbelief, and the title essay are new favorites
Chad Newton
An excellent collection of Lewis's last essays before his passing! Screwtape discusses hidden attacks within the paradigm of democracy. Lewis argues against the evolution myth of Darwin and other assumptions within the human psyche.
Oct 24, 2014 TJ rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ministry
The Efficacy of Prayer is the best essay in this collection. I'm still processing the arguments.
I think I must be a total theology geek to actually like reading essays...but I do.

Loved the essay on prayer...that's always been a rather confusing subject for me...I mean, how God's will lines up with the idea of prayer.

Oh, and I really liked the essay on extraterrestrial life. Very good thoughts on what the existence of "aliens" would actually mean.

I really like how Lewis sticks to Biblical doctrine first and foremost before striking out into the confusing world of paradoxes and philosophy.
Joe Dantona
This is a superb collection of essays. I have often spent much time avoiding eschatology (the study of the end of the world), and here Brother Lewis rebukes me and those like me for it. Christ talked about the end of the world, and that makes it a noteworthy and vital subject; this is the subject of "The World's Last Night."

His other essays are no less brilliant. The validity of prayer, belief and science... Read these. You will not be sorry. Let them prove that a simple essay can change the ope
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CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than th ...more
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“In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not.” 21 likes
“And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them.” 3 likes
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