The Screwtape Letters

The Screwtape Letters

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by C. S. Lewis

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This classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the unique vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to "Our Father Below." At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C. S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the worldly-wise devil

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This classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the unique vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to "Our Father Below." At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C. S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the worldly-wise devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
“C.S. Lewis is the ideal persuader for the half-convinced, for the good man who would like to be a Christian but finds his intellect getting in the way.”
The Washington Post Book World
“Apparently this Oxford don and Cambridge professor is going to be around for a long time; he calls himself a dinosaur but he seems to speak to people where they are.”
“This book is sparkling yet truly reverent, in fact a perfect joy, and should become a classic.”
“Excellent, hard-hitting, challenging, provoking.”
Read the Spirit
“Why get a new Screwtape Letters? I love the feel and look of this annotated edition. …I love the addition of red ink inside this book for the notes. There are a couple of hundred helpful annotations that first-time and veteran readers will find intriguing.”
Christianity Today
“C. S. Lewis understood, like few in the past century, just how deeply faith is both imaginative and rational.”
John Updike
I read Lewis for comfort and pleasure many years ago, and a glance into the books revives my old admiration.
New Yorker
If wit and wisdom, style and scholarship are requisites to passage through the pearly gates, Mr. Lewis will be among the angels.
Los Angeles Times
Lewis, perhaps more than any other twentieth-century writer, forced those who listened to him and read his works to come to terms with their own philosophical presuppositions.
Library Journal
Lewis's satire is a Christian classic. Screwtape is a veteran demon in the service of "Our Father Below" whose letters to his nephew and prot g , Wormwood, instruct the demon-in-training in the fine points of leading a new Christian astray. Lewis's take on human nature is as on-target as it was when the letters were first published in 1941. John Cleese's narration is perfect as he takes Screwtape from emotional height to valley, from tight control to near apoplexy. This will be a popular in most libraries.--Nann Blaine Hilyard, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Stephen Fry
“A mixture of wit, insight and brilliance of the kind you rarely meet.”
The New Yorker
“If wit and wisdom, style and scholarship are requisites to passage through the pearly gates, Mr. Lewis will be among the angels.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
C. S. Lewis Signature Classics
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
16 Years

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The Screwtape Letters

Chapter One

My dear Wormwood,

I note what you say about guiding your patient's reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. But are you not being a trifle naïve? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy's clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning. But what with the weekly press and other such weapons we have largely altered that. Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily 'true' or 'false', but as 'academic' or 'practical', 'outworn' or 'contemporary', 'conventional' or 'ruthless'. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don't waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous — that it is the philosophy of the future. That's the sort of thing he cares about.

The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle on to the Enemy's own ground. He can argue too; whereas in really practical propaganda of the kind I am suggesting He has been shown for centuries to be greatly the inferior of Our Father Below. By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient's reason; and once it is awake, who canforesee the result? Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favour, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experiences. Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it 'real life' and don't let him ask what he means by 'real'.

Remember, he is not, like you, a pure spirit. Never having been a human (Oh that abominable advantage of the Enemy's!) you don't realise how enslaved they are to the pressure of the ordinary. I once had a patient, a sound atheist, who used to read in the British Museum. One day, as he sat reading, I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way. The Enemy, of course, was at his elbow in a moment. Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years' work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defence by argument I should have been undone. But I was not such a fool. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch. The Enemy presumably made the counter-suggestion (you know how one can never quite overhear what He says to them?) that this was more important than lunch. At least I think that must have been His line for when I said 'Quite. In fact much too important to tackle at the end of a morning,' the patient brightened up considerably; and by the time I had added 'Much better come back after lunch and go into it with a fresh mind,' he was already half way to the door. Once he was in the street the battle was won. I showed him a newsboy shouting the midday paper, and a No. 73 bus going past, and before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man's head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of 'real life' (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all 'that sort of thing' just couldn't be true. He knew he'd had a narrow escape and in later years was fond of talking about 'that inarticulate sense for actuality which is our ultimate safeguard against the aberrations of mere logic'. He is now safe in Our Father's house.

You begin to see the point? Thanks to processes which we set at work in them centuries ago, they find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes. Keep pressing home on him the ordinariness of things. Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against Christianity. They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can't touch and see. There have been sad cases among the modern physicists. If he must dabble in science, keep him on economics and sociology; don't let him get away from that invaluable 'real life'. But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is 'the results of modern investigation'. Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!

Your affectionate uncle


The Screwtape Letters. Copyright (c) by C. Lewis . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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What People are saying about this

Stephen Fry
“A mixture of wit, insight and brilliance of the kind you rarely meet.”
John Updike
“I read Lewis for comfort and pleasure many years ago, and a glance into the books revives my old admiration.”

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The Screwtape Letters 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 268 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Screwtape Letters is a book of correspondence, letters from a senior devil named Screwtape to his nephew, a "junior tempter" named Wormwood. It is great literature, and (obviously) quite religious -- brilliantly so, in that it takes the devil's POV to make arguments & observations. If you want any further info regarding the literary content, consult a librarian or check Wikipedia. The rest of this review will be regarding the additional content of B&N's "The Screwtape Letters - Special Illustrated Edition (Enhanced Edition)". First of all, this edition (according to other posters) will NOT work on an iPad. Additionally, it will NOT work on my PC (Windows 7) using the Nook for PC program. I suspect the cause of this is that, given all the extra features in this Enhanced nook book, it isn't compatible with the Nook app. Secondly, I have no idea if this would work on a Nook Simple Touch. My guess is no -- and even if it did, without color, the videos & illustrations probably wouldn't look as great. But I don't work at B&N, so if you need to know, ask a sales rep. BUT, this nook book DOES work perfectly on both the Nook Color (according to another reviewer) and on the Nook Tablet (which I can attest to). So, with the specs out of the way: This Enhanced nook book is absolutely amazing, and I am so glad I bought it. It has the complete text of the Letters, plus the text of "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" (also by C. Lewis, though published later). But all that you can find in most other editions. What's amazing about this one is the enhanced content: illustrations of Screwtape at the start of each chapter, and of Wormwood scattered throughout; videos with relevant historical and literary info, biographical info about the author, and more; and audio clips with recordings from famous performance of The Screwtape Letters, as well as interviews and a lot more. To conclude, this is an incredible work of literature, greatly deserving of high-quality enhanced features. And this edition has delivered on that, beyond even my wildest dreams. BRAVO!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not a moralizing book trying to convert people to Christianity. Even as a Jew, I found Lewis's writing and religious beliefs to change my perspective on many things in life. It is a well-written book that can be enjoyed by anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Screwtape Letters is more relevant today than ever. CS Lewis describes the temptations of today's times as well as yesterdays, validating the point that evil is consistant and hardworking, if nothing else. Masterfully done!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Screwtape Letters remains one of the most powerful satires of recent times; not only because it can be interpreted on so many different levels. It's without parallel insofar as demands on the reader go- it forces you to reassess your views of religion and God, and although you always know 'the Enemy will win the day', you find yourself mesmerised, and keen to know the next installment. What struck me, especially in light of all the government scandals lately, is how much like a spin doctor Screwtape is. His insights into human behaviour are sharp and shrewd- he knows how to 'play the violin prettily', but his championing of obviously hideous things (the delight of Noise, for instance)and debasement of the Enemy (his belittlement of God betrays his fear of him)expose him for the fraud he is. It's scary, though. In 'Screwtape Makes a Toast', the appendix to this volume, Screwtape speaks at lenght about how it is not fabulously wicked people but small-minded, everyday evil that will eventually win the fight against God, and the country, under the guise of 'Democracy', will be one of apathy and mediocrity... and it's true!!!! Devilishly clever, but very scary. It demands a second, third... countless rereads.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has presented with one side of a correspondence between two fictitious demons. Screwtape, a demon with a high position and good standing with the one they name as their 'Father below', writes to his younger nephew, teaching him in the methods of temptation. In this unique way, Lewis reveals not only temptations themselves, but also the way to overcome them through Jesus Christ. In addition, it is a highly entertaining read, sometimes depressing, at many times humorous, and always insightful, as we follow two demons' plot to ensnare the soul of a new Christian. ---Ryan Robledo Author of the Aelnathan
Guest More than 1 year ago
set up in the form of letters from an upper-level demon (screwtape) to a newbie tempter (wormwood), c.s. lewis describes the strengths and weaknesses of human nature. there were times when i laughed out loud while reading this, because i felt like screwtape and wormwood had been inside of my head my whole life. this book gives hope to struggling souls and inspires everyone to work harder, because, as the book points out, when we are trying to do good, God is 'pleased even with [our] stumbles.'
alipe More than 1 year ago
C.S. Lewis is a great writer and this enhanced edition allows the reader to have an indepth understanding of his process, environments he chose to write in, and his inspiration; all shared through the wonderful videos embedded in the book. Illustrations are colorful & whimsical. Works flawlessly on my Nook Color.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book many years ago and I just got another copy to give to someone who is dealing with evil forces at work in their life. ' The fool says in his heart, there is no God.' The screwtape letters shows how satan and his demons try to discourage a person of faith. It is a very good read indeed, and just like the sacred Scriptures, it has to be read and understood spiritually. It appears that those who excoriate this beneficial book are still in slippery places. In this book one can see that satan is a liar and the father of lies. 5 stars plus one.
Janihall More than 1 year ago
What an interesting way to see what the devil is having his helpers do to us in the background. If you read it, and think about it, you will see that these things ARE happening in either your life, or of people you know! What an insightful person was CS Lewis - this must have been an extremely difficult book to write!
MadHatter13 More than 1 year ago
The Screwtape Letters is by far one of the best books I have read lately. I had heard about the concept of the story from a friend and was intrigued by the idea of demons surrounding us in our daily lives, tempting and manipulating us in various ways. The book certainly lived up to the hopes I had for it. I was delighted with the advice and guidance that Screwtape offers to his dear "nephew"/trainee, Wormwood, in setting the human he has been assigned to towards the path of damnation. It all seemed more than conceivable that such a thing could truly be occuring everyday around all around us.....a constant battle between good and evil for the souls of mankind. This book gives a revealing and insightful sneak peek into what such a struggle may in fact look like. Being privy to such a scene is not only fun...but immensely satisfying. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I definatly recomend it ! The book is in a demons perspective of how to control mortals. Its written by one of my favorite authors......C.S.Lewis
Tazman1736 More than 1 year ago
This is a good read especially since it provides a view of what a little devil may be trying to do to get you off of the right path. Reading this makes me want to evaluate the way I think and act around others. It is kind of scary that C.S. Lewis was able to probably think of what a senior devil would be telling a junior devil in order to take a soul to Hell. A Very Good Read.
Classicsforme More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book. With our lives moving faster and faster and there being in general less quiet and down time, its obvious why "the father of lies" would like us not to encounter this book. Lewis gives us a "grain of understanding" as to the real battle we are facing as human beings, God's children. "The battle is not against flesh and blood" this book we see the battle between good and evil, and how the battle is not fought only in the physical realm, but in our mind and heart as well. Lewis gives us a glimpse of how we are distracted, lied to, and generally kept captive, if we are not listening to our Father...
RachyLynn More than 1 year ago
C.S. Lewis nails human nature in this fascinating little novel. I found myself reevaluating myself and my actions in the light of the wisdom he shares. An excellent choice for anyone wishing to read something uplifting and well-written.
hanro More than 1 year ago
"My dear Wormwood," ... so begins a series of letters in which CS Lewis explores the peaks and valleys of human nature with a light hand and brilliant wit. This book has been on my reading list for the longest time and I am so happy I finally had the opportunity to experience it -- especially in light of this week's anniversary date -- serendipity. This is one of those wonderful works that you can read over and over again and always find a philosophical gem or a turn of phrase to ponder. If you haven't read it -- read it! -- you will not be disappointed!
James0917 More than 1 year ago
Altho now the kindle blurb on this edition says nook tablet and nook color only, it's very disappointing to see BN take its cue from amazon kindle and start making nook reader-only apps. It will be very sad if we see copyrighted e-books go the way of gaming systems. I mean, when's the last time you played a ps3 game on an xbox or wii? Readers of the world unite! Post your review and complain to helplines!
BC_MODERN More than 1 year ago
I have read most of C.S. Lewis's books, but this is by-far the best one. Lewis uses his wisdom and intellect to write a very realistic book on Spiritual warfare that captivates the reader. I definitely recommend this book to all.
SANDRA37 More than 1 year ago
I recently purchased another book entitled, "The Dialogues Of Adolph And Mavelia And Other Sketches" by E. A. Merodach, which followed the same concept as "The Screwtape Letters", only much more technically informative. Both were no less really great reads. Enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, most customers will overlook this when browsing in stores, as it's mistakenly classified as NON-fiction.  But, much like Narnia, this is a creation of the author's mind; a narrative, told from the perspective of a fictional character.  At no point did the author claim that demon named Screwtape was a real figure from scripture, nor that these were actual events in history.  But, for reasons unknown, the brilliant minds at Barnes & Noble put this in non-fiction, along with biographies, history, and memoirs.
Jenny_Rose More than 1 year ago
The reader has the opportunity to read letters written by Screwtape—a retired tempter of Satan—who is mentoring a young tempter called Wormwood. Screwtape is trying to advise Wormwood on the best way to tempt and lead astray his human assignment. This book is an interesting perspective on the usual list of “do's and don't's” or “should and should not” that some Christians subscribe to. I know some will have a hard time stomaching that this is one side of a conversation between two demons, but perhaps those who avoid traditional religious books will find this interesting. I found it more though provoking than I expected. Due to some of the subject matter, I would recommend this to young adult and up.
s130390 More than 1 year ago
(Spoiler Alert) In this satirical novel by C.S. Lewis, a senior demon by the name of Screwtape sends letters to his nephew, Wormwood, who has the task of guiding a young man to “Our Father Below” or Satan and away from “the Enemy” or God. This task becomes that much more difficult as the man or “patient” converts to Christianity. It is here that Screwtape provides to Wormwood solid advice on how to tempt the patient into undermining faith and promoting sin (or the “real life”). This conversation is permeated by observations of the human nature and scrutiny of the Christian doctrine. Because of their nature as demons, Wormwood and Screwtape live in a exceptional morally altered world where the pursuit of individual gain and greed is the highest purpose and human virtue is virtually incomprehensible to them. Later on, as the man is killed in an air raid during WWII and has ascended to heaven, Wormwood is punished by the same fate that awaited the patient had he gone to hell: consumption of his spiritual essence by other demons. As I began this book, one of the ideas that struck me as absorbing and mystifying at the same time is the quote prior to the preface, which goes as follows, “The devil…the prowde sprite…cannot endure to be mocked” (Thomas more). Even having finished the book, I went back to the original quote to determine why the devil cannot bear scorn. One theory I have (having interpreted the content in the novel) is because laughter or any sort of jeer and flout undermines his pride and vanity. The devil is subtly aware that his infernal rebellion against God is by all means absurd. Even more unconsciously, he subtly questions the greatest theme prevalent in the novel, something that the demons Wormwood and Screwtape have yet to comprehend, Love. I believe that God’s unconditional and undying love for humans correlate to why the devil is engaged in a campaign to corrupt us and consume our spiritual essence. The devil resents us because he resents God. However, it is his pride, vanity, and relentless acts to prove that he was above humans and Jesus led to his subsequent exile. In one of his letters to Wormwood, Screwtape writes, “All His (God) talk about Love must be a disguise for something else – He must have some real motive for creating them…”(Lewis, page 100). Screwtape continues with, “He (the devil) admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret (unconditional love); the Enemy replied ‘’I wish with all my heart that you did.” In observing this conversation between God and the devil, Screwtapes notices that ‘our Father’ was not hurled from Heaven but rather chose to exile himself. Upon reading this, the first question that came to mind was ‘Was that intentional deception on the devil’s behalf or a genuine disclosure of personal inhibition?’ As C.S. Lewis heeds that the devil and his followers are all liars and you cannot assume anything they say to be real or to contain even an ounce of truth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love C. S. Lewis! It was a little hard for me to read & follow, but worth the time.
Arkatox More than 1 year ago
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis was a school assignment that I was to read over a couple months. Considering school is now over (yahoo!), I finished this book a while ago. The entire book is a set of letters from Screwtape, a demon, to his nephew Wormwood, a fallen angel who's job it is to tempt a young man referred to only as the "patient." It takes place during World War II, and that plays a part in the events. It's interesting to read a book from the point of view of a fallen angel. The points made are undeniably good, and it feels like every other page is a slap in the face to the lifestyles of average "Christians." It's hard not to see many fragments of your own life in the life of Wormwood's "patient." Overall, The Screwtape Letters is a true showing of Lewis's genius and his knowledge in Biblical facts. I believe that the author put a lot of himself into the novel; into the life of the "patient." It's a great philosophical read, and I highly recommend it to anyone with a decent vocabulary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hillarious and ironically correct!
hellokittyrawrr More than 1 year ago
Great book , very interesting. It is a new spin on spiritural warfare. I would recommend this book to anyone :)