The Screwtape Letters is a Christian apologetic novel by C. S. Lewis. It is written in a satirical, epistolary style and while it is fictional in format, the plot and characters are used to address Christian theological issues, primarily those to do with temptation and resistance to it.First published in February 1942, the story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior Demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter. The uncle's mentorship pertains to the nephew's responsibility in securing the damnation of a British man known only as "the Patient".In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis provides a series of lessons in the importance of taking a deliberate role in Christian faith by portraying a typical human life, with all its temptations and failings, seen from devils' viewpoints. Screwtape holds an administrative post in the bureaucracy ("Lowerarchy") of Hell, and acts as a mentor to his nephew Wormwood, an inexperienced (and incompetent) tempter.
In the thirty-one letters which constitute the book, Screwtape gives Wormwood detailed advice on various methods of undermining faith and of promoting sin in "the Patient", interspersed with observations on human nature and on Christian doctrine. In Screwtape's advice, selfish gain and power are seen as the only good, and neither demon can comprehend God's love for man or acknowledge human virtue.
Versions of the letters were originally published weekly in the Anglican periodical The Guardian, in wartime between May and November 1941, and the standard edition contains an introduction explaining how the author chose to write his story.
Lewis wrote the sequel "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" in 1959 – a critique of certain trends in British public education. (Although Britain calls its major private schools "public schools", Lewis is referring to state schools when he criticizes "public education".) Omnibus editions with a new preface by Lewis were published by Bles in 1961 and by Macmillan in 1962.
The Screwtape Letters became one of Lewis' most popular works, although he claimed that it was "not fun" to write and "resolved never to write another 'Letter'".
Both The Screwtape Letters and "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" have been released on both audio cassette and CD, with narrations by John Cleese, Joss Ackland and Ralph Cosham.Screwtape appears as a fictional devil in the book The Screwtape Letters (1942) and in its sequel short story Screwtape Proposes a Toast (1959), both written by the Christian author C. S. Lewis. Screwtape is also the title of the stage adaptation of the Letters by James Forsyth (originally Dear Wormwood, 1961).
Screwtape holds the rank of Senior Tempter and serves as the Undersecretary of his department in what Lewis envisages as a sort of infernal Civil Service. The Screwtape Letters represent his side of the correspondence with his nephew Wormwood, as mentor to the young devil who is charged with the guidance of one man. The Toast is Screwtape's after-dinner speech at the Tempters' Training College and satirises American and British or English public education. Screwtape has a secretary called Toadpipe.
Screwtape appears to understand very well the nature of human minds and human weaknesses, although nothing about human love. He also has a way with words and a fondness for sarcasm.