C.S. Lewis is a Christian favorite. I’ve met few Christian readers who can’t stand any part of his work. I’ve read his Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, The Joyful Christian, and The Great Divorce. The Screwtape Letters is probably his more recognized piece of fiction behind the Chronicles of Narnia, but I have to admit that it’s my least favorite.
The acute philosophical arguments and observations are still present. I appreciate the difficulty of the challenge that he undertook in writing this book from a perspective completely contrary to his faith (the fiends of Hell). The clarity is exceptional in Lewis’ consistent style of using allegory and metaphor to explain deeper meaning and truth of Christian belief.
Basically, even though it’s my least favorite Lewis-read so far, it’s still well worth the time spent to read it. The book is written as a series of letters from one of Satan’s minions working in an administrative branch of Hell (ironically, referred to as a promotion with the understanding that the more miserable they are the better they feel) to his nephew who is serving as a new Tempter. The nephew is responsible for manipulating a recent Christian convert. The insights that Uncle Screwtape provide as effective means of persuasion are uncomfortably insightful.
While I can’t think of a more succinct and provocative way of writing this material, I found it difficult to maintain focus and interest over an extended period of reading because of the constant stop/start feel to the reading. There may have been a dose of conviction in there, too, to muddy the sentiments.
It’s daring and demonic. It’s clear and convicting. It’s good and bad. It’s worth a read and worth some reflection (maybe a lot of reflection). For me, it just didn’t surpass the other great fiction pieces that I have read from C.S. Lewis.