Sunday, July 19, 2020

Fortnightly Book, July 19

I have been going back and forth all weekend about what to do for the next fortnightly book; I'll likely be busy with both of my courses, so it makes sense to do a re-read or something quite short, but I hadn't wholly settled on anything. But someone (the Darwins, I think) mentioned that they had recently been re-reading The Screwtape Letters, and it was there on my shelf staring me in the face, so I think re-reading The Screwtape Letters is what I'll do. It's been a while, in any case.

The Screwtape Letters was originally serialized in 1941 in The Guardian (the major Anglican newspaper that closed doors in 1951, very definitely not to be confused with the periodical today called The Guardian, which only took that name in 1959). "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" was published in 1959, and is usually added to the original 31 letters. Lewis consistently held that it was one of the easiest books to write but also one of the most unpleasant, and, despite the popularity of the Letters, refused requests to write more. The work touched off a minor literary genre of its own, as there are now dozens of 'letters from hell' works that use the format of 'demonic ventriloquism', as Lewis called it.

John Cleese did a very famous audiobook version of it; I have it recorded somewhere so I will have to see if I can dig it up. Cleese captures the urbane satirical malice of Screwtape almost perfectly. There was also a dramatization of the work a few years back through Focus on the Family; I think I'll try doing that as well. In any case, my schedule for the next two weeks looks very much like I could do these at least as audio-in-the-background while doing other things that need to be done, like preparing for next term, routine grading, and the like.