The Screwtape Letters is one of those books that has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time. Since I spent this weekend stuck in bed with a horrible case of the flu, I decided to ask my fiance to pick me something short to read (my attention span isn't the greatest when I have a constant headache) and he chose The Screwtape Letters.
Genre: Fiction, Satire
Year Published: 1942
How do you teach someone to turn their back on their friends and behave really badly? And what happens when you lose faith in your convictions and turn to the dark side of your nature?
Screwtape knows. For Screwtape is an experienced devil whose newphew Wormwood is at the beginning of his demonic career and has been assigned to secure the destruction of a young man.
As the senior fiend advises his young apprentice in leading humanity astray, Lewis delves into questions about good and evil, temptation, repentance, and grace, offering knowledge and guidance to all who are trying to live good Christian lives.
I must admit that I did try to read this book once before. I got through the first two letters and gave up. I am not a big fan of novels that are written in letter format. I find this style of writing disjointed, especially when we are only getting half of the correspondence. To me, a good novel needs to flow almost seamlessly.
I had heard a lot of good things about this novel though, so was determined to give it a go. It turned out to be quite a quick read. Although, I found the Christian themes and overtones a little too much.
Which, since this novel is a Christian satire, you might find quite amusing. I too can see the absurdity in that statement, but I really hoped that this novel would be an interesting read with underlying Christian themes (like The Chronicles of Narnia) instead of "an in-your-face, this is how you should live your life, this is what is right, this is what is wrong", type novel.
This book is told from a devils point of view in an effort to point out the problems associated with living a non-Christian life. Lewis does a good job of mocking the negative side of human nature, which I did find quite amusing, but he also spends a lot of time pointing out the so-called "only" alternative, to living a good life.
I feel there are many different ways to live a good and happy life so this novel conflicted with my personal beliefs, non-beliefs and experiences. That said, I think it is important to sometimes read literature that takes us out of our comfort zone and that conflicts with our way of thinking in order to open our minds to new ideas. In this case, the ideas in this novel weren't really new to me, but it was still a type of story I wouldn't normally read.
If you are a practicing Christian then I am sure you will love this novel as it is relating everything you already believe. If you are a lover of literature and want to expand your reading then again, pick it up. If you really can't stand books that preach to you then give it a miss.