Monday, May 24, 2010

The Screwtape Letters (Product Review)

C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters
Focus on the Family Radio Theatre
Collector’s Edition

Our family is bringing our school year to a close by reading and listening to The Screwtape Letters. One word used on the cover of the packaging says, “Diabolical.” And buddy they aren’t kidding. Get ready to hear the voice of Andy Serkis (Gollum of “The Lord of the Rings” as Screwtape) as it drips pure evil. His cackling laugh and sarcastic thoughts and accusations against The Enemy are enough to send chills down your spine. After all, he is an accomplished demon serving His Father Below.

Here’s an excerpt from the Classified Materials:

While C.S. Lewis was writing “The Screwtape Letters”, he read them out loud to some of his friends. This group of writers and thinkers, which included J.R.R. Tolkien, was informally known as The Inklings. They greatly admired the “Letters,” so Lewis published them in weekly installments in “The Guardian” newspaper during the dark days of World War II. In 1942, the “Letters” were published in book form in England—dedicated to Tolkien. The following year, the book appeared in America to great acclaim, and Lewis appeared on the front cover of “Time” magazine in September 1947. The book has remained in print ever since.

Sixty-three years ago Lewis appeared on the front cover of “Time” magazine? Imagine what an oddity that would be today! Nevertheless, it is an important piece of literature which, I think, speaks even louder to a generation of Christians who find themselves living in a hostile world. Loud voices are everywhere we turn. In the Letters, we find it’s the whispering voices in the recesses of our minds we need to fear.

I wonder what Mr. Lewis would think if he could hear the dramatization of his Letters. I imagine his glasses would be pulled down on the bridge of his nose, and his famous cigar would be perched between his fingers. I think he would smile and then laugh and then say, “Exactly!”

The Preface of The Screwtape Letters begins like this:

I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands.

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is the disbelief in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them….

Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle. …There is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on Earth.

Screwtape, that worldly-wise old devil, gives ageless advice to his nephew, Wormwood, a young, inexperienced demon, who is charged with securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. Do you know any ordinary young men or women? The likes of Wormwood are not too far off from them.

This full-cast dramatization of The Screwtape Letters is a masterpiece which draws in its listeners from the very moment the first letter begins. One can easily imagine smoke curling from the nostrils of Screwtape. The background sounds mixed in with the words of the Letter bring flat pages in a classic book to life. Be prepared to feel the heat!

I highly recommend this audio dramatization which also includes a bonus DVD of behind-the-scenes video featurettes as well as 5.1 surround sound mix of the entire program. The recommended age is 12+. I absolutely agree. This certainly isn’t for the younger crowd.

Lunch anyone?

P.S. You have just read the mock product review I submitted for consideration to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I found out on Friday I was selected and am now officially a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew for 2010-2011. Starting in July, I will begin writing and posting product reviews 3 to 4 times a month. This should be an exciting adventure!


  1. And who better than you, my dear friend. Excellent writing abilities, honesty and balanced evaluations - I think Old Schoolhouse is getting a great asset to their team :D

  2. You write EXCELLENT reviews, Michelle. I am now really, really wanting to listen to The Screwtape Letters!! I've never read the book.

  3. And...I'm just as PROUD as I can be!!