Wednesday 3 August 2011

That's Novel

Once again, please forgive me my rancid pun.  Question 9: "Do you have a favourite novel?"

I'm usually very bad at picking favourites.  But for once, I do actually have one: my favourite novel is The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.

Yes, that's him of Chronicles of Narnia fame.  The Screwtape Letters is a bit darker than that better-known series (as one would expect, since it's framed as a series of letters from a senior demon, the titular Screwtape, to his nephew Wormwood, encouraging him in his efforts to secure the damnation of a human 'patient'), but it manages the impressive feat of actually saying very profound and wonderful things about God and humanity and salvation, while appearing at face value to be saying the opposite.  For all its devilish ranting, it's not that hard to read between the lines and appreciate Lewis' real intentions in the writing.

It's not a book I'd recommend for young readers, of course.  The story mostly takes place during World War II, God is consistently referred to as 'the Enemy', and there is a definite recurring implication that the demons basically want unsaved humans for food.  But for readers who know enough to see through the inverse logic, it's a brilliant book.

My favourite part is the ending.  You might want to skip the rest of this paragraph if you haven't read the Letters, as it contains spoilers.  The 'patient', who lives in London, is killed in a bombing raid in the space between the penultimate and last chapters, having maintained his faith despite Wormwood's efforts, and Screwtape spends his final letter berating Wormwood for his failure and describing in some detail what the 'patient' is now experiencing in Heaven, labouring the contrast between this and what Wormwood was supposed to have achieved.  In parts, as per the rest of the book, very funny, but also unexpectedly moving.

[Housekeeping note]  You might have noticed that, despite Hannah being seemingly disadvantaged in the race due to the fact that she's away from the internet for a week, I'm being all heartless and forging ahead anyway.  But there's a good reason for this: what she doesn't know yet, because it wasn't even finalised until yesterday, is that I'm going away for a week in mid-challenge too.  The plan is that I will be staying with friends from next Tuesday until the following Monday, and I probably won't be writing too many posts during the visit.  So I'm getting ahead while I can, and I expect Hannah will have plenty of opportunity to catch up.  See?

Because we do like us a few statistics:
  • Twenty Questions status: 5 down, 15 to go
  • Days until Root Hill: 17
  • Latest book read: will anybody be surprised if I say Operation Mincemeat?
  • Latest film/TV watched: appropriately enough, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on Blu-ray (little sister's birthday present)
  • Latest music listened to: Jevok Horgam by Tim Johnston - Odom the Grud's theme from Arbitrary Stopframe 8
  • Latest edible item eaten: flapjack
  • Predominant colour of clothes: same as yesterday... again...
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, Firefox (tabs: Blogspot Dashboard; A White Horizon; Blogspot Create Post; MatNav 6.1)
  • Webcomics posted today: Cylinder and Miserable #1326

- The Colclough


  1. Is it bad to say I'm glad you're going away? Oh I've got so much to do to catch up.... more that one a day....

    Also, I think a friend who also happens to be called Matt was talking about this book while we were on camp at Easter and I was thinking about reading it then. I'll have to see if dad's got it/find it/borrow it/buy it :)

  2. if you can't find a copy, i could lend you mine 8)