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The Screwtape Letters: Background

Introduction

C.S. Lewis came up with the idea for The Screwtape Letters as he was leaving his church (Holy Trinity, Headington) after a Sunday service. One can‘t help but wonder what that sermon was about on that particular Sunday morning.

The concept for the book is one devil, Screwtape, writing to his nephew, training him how to be successful as a tempter.

Lewis planned to write a sequel featuring one angel encouraging a junior angel on how to be a good guardian angel. Lewis gave up on the idea realizing that it is easy to get into the mind of the diabolical and impossible to get into the mind of the angelic (note the ―Preface to the 2nd edition, Pp. 9-10).

"I had, moreover, a sort of grudge against my book for not being a different book which no one could write. Ideally, Screwtape‘s advice to Wormwood should have been balanced by archangelical advice to the patient‘s guardian angel. Without this the picture of human life is lopsided. But who could supply the deficiency? Even if a man—and he would have to be a far better man than I—could scale the spiritual heights required, what ‗answerable style‘ could he use? For the style would really be part of the content. Mere advice would be no good; every sentence would have to smell of Heaven." (Pp. 5-6).

This resource is part of a series on The Screwtape Letters. Click here to listen to the full series


Jerry Root

Jerry Root is the Christopher W. Mitchell Senior Fellow for C.S. Lewis Studies at the C.S. Lewis Institute; Emeritus Professor of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois and a visiting Professor at Biola University. He received his Ph.D. from the Open University through the Oxford Centre for Missions Studies. Jerry has nine published books, as well as numerous articles and publications about C. S. Lewis and evangelism in other books, journals, and periodicals, as well as read numerous academic papers at various academic venues. Recently, he published, Splendour in the Dark, a book about C. S. Lewis’s narrative poem Dymer (the book also includes Lewis’s 100-page poem). Jerry has lectured on Lewis topics at 79 Universities in 19 different countries.  

COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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