The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis
I will make no friends in what I have to say today.
But here it is:
- The idea here is cute. But I wish I'd read these as a periodical (as they first appeared), instead of back-to-back in less than 2 hours. Read in a single stretch, the novelty wears thin. Approaching these gathered in a single volume, I hoped for a deeper connection to an overarching narrative or for a genuine interest in a character. I found neither.
- Althoooough, these lacks lend the anthology an almost post-modern feel, and I agree the letters could be studied out of order quite nicely. In fact, I'd prefer them this way...because as they stand, (or as I read), it felt like a fervent zealot's bullet points, written in reverse. Because you see, written from the perspective of a Temptor, all the content must be mentally flipped to be read true, by a Christian. And the impatient version of myself I took to this reading grew weary of the flipping. I longed to be opposite Lewis in a room and say, "Okay, you can step out of character now and just tell me what you really think, as you." Because I love Lewis. And I would listen to him muse all day.
- So did I enjoy Narnia then? Because isn't that allegory? Or another "real message" couched in fiction? Characters and tale voicing testimony? Well, yes. It is all those. But I loved Narnia. I guess Screwtape (or rather the limitations of the periodical form) failed to ignite my imagination, but rather called upon my analytical sensibilities whilst simultaneously assaulting my creative ones (and my poor ability to cross between when overtired). Short version: Lovers of it? You must be smarter and/or more awake than me. /wink
- I don't mind satire. I don't seek it out like nectar, but I'm not opposed to it. The edition I read including corresponding satirical and playful illustrations. I wasn't a fan. I wish I'd read one without them first.
- I felt a little like a believer was donning an unbeliever's hat to issue a licence to complain about the ways of believers, in portions. The sweeping stereotypes "Screwtape" made about certain groups bugged me a little. I have often consented Lewis is an expert on people. He is insightful. I give him that. That's not what I got here.
- As for the actual content suggested (Temptors assigned to mortals) -- I'm not sure how it all works. But I've never been opposed to this parody being our reality...so that perhaps contributed to the unsettling sensation I encountered at seeing chubby cartoons representing Spirits I wouldn't deny exist. Still wouldn't.