A series of letters from Screwtape, a demon, to his nephew Wormwood, a junior demon. The letters give advice to Wormwood on how to persuade or tempt h...moreA series of letters from Screwtape, a demon, to his nephew Wormwood, a junior demon. The letters give advice to Wormwood on how to persuade or tempt his human subject away from G-d and towards their side.
Its an interesting fantasy piece, but mostly its a sort of satirical study of human nature, especially as regards to religion, vices and virtues.
I found it hard to simply read the book as it is. Found myself constantly trying to reverse every piece of advice that Screwtape gives in order to see what CS Lewis himself truly believes. Doesn't always work that way, because Screwtape gives his advice with quite a mix of truth and 'evil'. But I couldn't stop twisting everything round to find the opposite of all the demons advice. Which made for confusing reading.
There are some thought provoking concepts in here. I was particularly interested in screwtapes commentary on how humans use the term 'real', how physical and mental/spiritual effects can both be described as real, but we pick and choose which to regard as real depending on the topic, and depending on what we're trying to prove. Anyhow, Lewis writes in better than I do, so I'll give up trying to explain it, probably falls under spoilers anyway.
I did find myself being somewhat frustrated by what I consider to be outdated offensive prejudices in his work. And I recognise this is somewhat hypocritical of me, because I'm always complaining about people who dismiss religion based on old writings that don't stand up to todays values or knowledge, when they don't apply the same stricture to science. We don't discredit all science because ancient philosophers believed the sun revolved around the earth, or because physicsists once proposed that light propogated through ether.. no we aknowledge that science evolves and we improve upon it continuously. So I take the same view of religion, and christianity in particular is an evolving religion. And yet it does annoy me, even tho Lewis wrote this novel 60 years ago, that it contains outdated mysoginistic, sexist or homophobic beliefs or references that don't have any place in modern christianity or the modern world. Its probably because of the fact that its still a respected piece of writing despite any shortcomings or faults, and I worry about the influence of it.
Not to say that it doesn't make for interesting reading, it certainly does, I gave it 3 stars, for some quite thoughtprovoking comments. But other parts of it just smell of old-fashioned prejudice. (less)