The Screw Tape Letters: With Screw Tape Proposes a Toast.
by C. S. Lewis


NIOS Comments

     Hanumat Presaka Swami

     rev. 2010 Jan 11

We would heartily advise the "Scew Tape Letters" as curriculum for the NIOS Diploma in World Classical Literature. From the "Britannica" bio-data we can see the profound effect of Prof. C. S. Lewis' writings on Christian and European traditions. The "Letters" also offers the historical-novel's taste of the English world at the time of World War II. In this respect it is similar to our marginally suggested readings of Dame Agatha Christy's, "The Young Adventurers" and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels.
The edition, as noted above, includes a history of C. S. Lewis' writing of the "Letters".
Screw Tape is an Undersecretary in the administration of Hell and his nephew Worm Wood is a neophyte Tempter assigned to bring about the down fall of one Englishman.
In a series of letters Screw Tape advises Worm Wood with different strategies on how to tempt his Patient with evil; and furthermore reveals a broader Christian cosmology and ontology.
The suggested temptations deal with a man in a marginal Christian mode to varying degrees of deeper Christian involvement. Thus, we find profitable comparisons with the similar temptations described by Lord Caitanya to Rupa Goswami in Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's "Caitanya-caritamrta" 2.19, Rupa-siksa.
From our first reading of the "Letters" there is considerable worth in the information, perspective and focus offered by Prof. Lewis, yet we feel that the treatment in Rupa Siksa is more systematic. Of course, our depth training is in the tradition of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and so we don't consider our estimation to be extremely well informed.
The "Letters" gives us a taste of the depth of Christian theology and opportunities for it's practice in the daily life of a mid-century Englishman in his local Parish community. We were also impressed with the depth of the cosmology and how it dealt with, for example, the problem of time, destiny and free-will.
For further reading there are certainly Wikipedia articles and other on-line articles, the Britannica and much more.
However, we recommend the "Letters" as sufficient in itself for the NIOS M. lit., being education enough to open a fruitful dialog with any reader of English, Christian, literature. Thus we we would be mutually enriched in the understanding of our own tradition, the general principles of philosophy and religion, and how to work more harmoniously to create peace, friendship and prosperity with a common cause. the goals of NIOS.
More personally it certainly serves to help us avoid the snares of the Tempter.

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