Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thrice-Told Tales: Three Volumes of Devilish Correspondance

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors."
--C.S. Lewis, preface to The Screwtape Letters
As the original volume of fiendish correspondence, The Screwtape Letters engages the mind with Lewis's diabolical perspective flip and insights into human nature.  Despite its age, many of Screwtape's remarks are still valid on topics ranging from human interactions to stress. A short story, "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," can be found in many volumes and can be read with equal enjoyment. A special recommendation must go out to Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre adaptation, which features the renown Andy Serkis (Gollum) as Screwtape, managing to create convincing dialogue without sacrificing the text.

On the other hand, Derek Wilson's Magnificent Malevolence rejects the epistolary format in favor of a memoir.  Its attempt to lay out the grand schemes of the Lowarchy over the past fifty years suffers from overly serious tone. Though cheerfulness is not to be expected from demons, the reader is forced to identify so completely with the narrator that there are few, if any, moments of narrative irony.

In contrast, Richard Platt's As One Devil to Another  not only uses a rejected title for Lewis's work, but gained a recommendation from Walter Hooper, official biographer of C.S. Lewis. "Reads as if  C.S. Lewis himself had written it," the cover proclaims. It's a bold statement, but it delivers. Not only have I read it multiple times with enjoyment, but I even convinced my mom (who rarely has time to read and prefers Karen Kingsbury), to give it a try.
The author readily acknowledges his debt to C.S. Lewis, not only in the preface and introduction, but throughout the book, from the senior demon warning his apprentice away from a shelf of Lewis's books to the rant on "That Place by the River" in chapter seventeen. (Addison's Walk, site of Lewis's conversion to Christianity). The book also contains the humor and self-delusion that made The Screwtape Letters a classic, while addressing modern concerns  in a timeless way.

p.s. apparently my auto-publish doesn't work. Bother

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