Screwtape Letters Audio John Cleese
Screwtape Letters Audio John Cleese – “My dear wormwood” is a phrase that many readers will immediately recognize as the opening to the classic work of C.S. Lewis
. The book features a series of letters from Screwtape, a senior devil, to his cousin Wormwood who is just learning how to most effectively seduce his first human (aka “patient”). While the book itself is well known and widely read, the background to its genesis is a fascinating story. In this post we will not only write
Screwtape Letters Audio John Cleese
, but also list adaptations of the book over the years, study resources, and highlight our Lenten Reflection series on the book beginning at the Wade Center on February 21, 2018.
The Screwtape Letters Study Guide: A Bible Study On The C.s. Lewis Book The Screwtape Letters
In a letter dated July 20, 1940 to his brother Warren, who had returned to active service during World War II as a major in the Army. Lewis was attending a worship service at his church, Holy Trinity in Headington Quarry, when a thought occurred to him. As he explained to his brother:
“Before the shift was over…I got an idea for a book [which] I think could be both useful and entertaining. It [would] be called As one Devil to Another and would consist of letters from an elderly, retired devil to a young devil just getting started on his first “patient.” The idea [would] be to give all the psychology of seduction from the other point of view.”
, HarperSanFrancisco, 1996 p. 268) The actual writing process was tedious for Lewis because of the mindset he had to adopt while writing in a devilish guise:
“Although I had never written so easily, I never wrote with less pleasure. …While it was easy to twist your mind into the devilish pose, it wasn’t fun, if not for long. The tension caused a kind of mental spasm. The work I had to project myself into as I spoke through Screwtape was all dust, grit, thirst and itching. Every trace of beauty, freshness and conviviality had to be excluded. It almost choked me before I was done.” (Lewis’s 1961 preface to The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast)
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, a weekly Anglican newspaper, had published Lewis’s articles titled “The Dangers of National Repentance” (March 15) and “Two Ways with the Self” (May 3). When Lewis offered
They agreed to serialize all 31 letters running in weekly installments from May 2 to November 28, 1941. The letters proved to be very popular and were later collected and published as a book the following year. Lewis dedicated the book to his friend and colleague Inkling J.R.R. Tolkien, but Tolkien was surprised at the gesture (see
, draft letter to Michael Tolkien No. 252, November or December 1963). And, as Humphrey Carpenter reports, not entirely satisfied with the book itself: “for one who believed deeply in the power of evil [Tolkien] thought it foolish to play with such things rather jokingly.” (
Typescript at his London publisher could be destroyed in a German bombing raid (a justified fear in WWII in Britain), Lewis sent his handwritten manuscript for safekeeping to his friend Sister Penelope, an Anglican nun at the Convent of the Community of St Mary the Virgin at Wantage. When she later tried to return it to Lewis, he told her to sell it. This handwritten manuscript is now in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. The typescript is kept at the Wade Center under the number CSL/MS-107 in our C.S. Lewis Manuscript Collection. The Wade’s typescript also includes a handwritten preface researched by Lewis scholar Brenton Dickieson. You can read Brenton’s findings in “The Unpublished Preface to C.S. Lewis’s”
The Screwtape Letters: Lewis, C S: 9781444424096: Amazon.com: Books
, along with his BBC Radio speeches in the 1940s (later published in book form as
), combined to give Lewis greater recognition as a Christian spokesperson. An example of this was the September 8, 1947, cover of Time magazine featuring an image of Lewis with the caption “Oxford’s C.S. Lewis: His heresy: Christianity.” As a result of this increased profile, Lewis’s fan mail also grew significantly during this time, requiring him to spend hours each day writing responses to his correspondents.
“The book is sparkling yet truly reverent, a perfect joy in fact, and should become a classic.” (Manchester Guardian, Feb. 24, 1942) “Mr. Lewis possesses the rare gift of making justice legible, and has produced a fine piece of sermon illuminated by flashes of insight” (New Statesman and Nation, May 16, 1942). Charles Williams, co-author of Inkling and Wade, wrote two glowing reviews of The Screwtape Letters in The Dublin Review (July 1942) and Time and Tide (March 21, 1942). His Time and Tide review entitled “Letters in Hell” was written as a parody Screwtape letter addressed to “My Dear Scorpuscle.”
Not everyone was equally receptive or grateful to Lewis’s efforts in this book. In his 1961 preface to
The Screwtape Letters And Screwtape Proposes A Toast: C. S. Lewis: Amazon.com: Books
Lewis reports a humorous case in which a rural clergyman, failing to understand that the letters were meant to be read from an opposing point of view, withdrew his subscription from
In which he stated that “much of the advice given in these letters seemed to him not only incorrect but also diabolical.”
Despite requests to write additional Screwtape letters, Lewis’s only subsequent Screwtape offer was prompted by an invitation from
That he said he “pulled the trigger”. (1961 preface) Published on December 19, 1959 as “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” Lewis moved from a letter approach to having a lecture by Screwtape at the Tempters’ Training College’s annual dinner for young devils. This fictitious address later appeared in a new edition of
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Has undergone various treatments over the years through audiobooks, dramatizations, adaptations, and so on. The non-exhaustive list below contains some examples of these screw tape variants.
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On the advice of C.S. Lewis, we want to help our readers “breathe the clean sea breeze of the ages through our minds,” which, as he argued, “can only be done by reading old books.” Continuing our Rediscovering Forgotten Classics series, we want to explore some forgotten Christian classics that remain relevant and serve the church today.
C. S. Lewis would be alarmed to see The Screwtape Letters in a series on the benefits of reading old books. He would say his book is not old enough. When he spoke of old books, he meant:
Character Development, Critical Thinking And Screwtape Letters
Books – works of Plato, Athanasius or Aquinas. But I find that the gap between his writing in the 1940s and my rereading today is long enough to qualify it as “tried against the multitude of Christian thought through the ages” (
, I thought it would be funny. How could a fictional series of letters from a senior demon to a young intern not be hilarious? (If you ever want to feel the full power of his humor, look up the audio version read by John Cleese.)
Your patient has become humble; did you draw his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us when the man is aware that he has them, but this is especially true of humility. Catch him the moment he’s really poor in spirit and smuggle his mind into the gleeful reflection, “Great! I am humble, ‘and almost immediately pride – proud of his own humility – will appear.
If he goes that way, let him write a book about it; that is often an excellent way of sterilizing the seeds that the Enemy plants in a human soul.
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But I soon found the book to be far more compelling than entertaining. Lewis shines the light of Christian reflection on sin and temptation in revealing and disturbing ways. He does make me chuckle, but that only makes me lower my guard long enough to feel conviction and repent. I look more honestly at myself and turn away from sin more determinedly after overhearing this diabolical dialogue.
This profound and striking story takes the form of a series of letters from Screwtape, a devil high in the Infernal Civil Service, to his cousin Wormwood, a junior colleague engaged in his first mission on Earth, attempting the damnation of to secure a young man