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Screwtape Proposes a Toast

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      Screwtape Proposes a Toast
C. S. Lewis

The only official sequel, penned by Lewis himself, to the ever-popular ‘Screwtape Letters’ – published alongside other short essays.One of the most popular books ever to come from the pen of C.S. Lewis was written in the name of Screwtape, a senior devil, experienced in the art of luring his ‘patients’ on earth to their own damnation in service of ‘our father below’ – and training others to do the same.Screwtape’s correspondence with his nephew, an apprentice devil, came into Lewis’s hands, he said, by a route he would not disclose, and many a reader has finished the collection longing for more of the insights they gained from its wisdom.Much to Lewis’s resistance, this after-dinner speech, given by Screwtape to a graduating class of demons at a college in hell, came to light a few years after the publication of the original letters. Now 75 years later, the speech is reproduced in full once more, along with a short collection of Lewis’s other lesser-known, but perennial works.Many people will have forgotten about the only official ‘sequel’ that exists to Screwtape; the 75th anniversary of Screwtape’s publication is the perfect opportunity to bring this back.

COPYRIGHT (#ulink_fd2bd10e-e3f7-5b47-a3b9-a5f2a7637fce)

William Collins

An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

1 London Bridge Street

London SE1 9GF

www.WilliamCollinsBooks.com (http://www.WilliamCollinsBooks.com)

First published in Great Britain by Fontana Books in 1965

This eBook edition published by William Collins in 2017

Copyright © 1965 C.S. Lewis Pte Ltd

© in ‘Screwtape Proposes a Toast’ Helen Joy Lewis, 1959

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780008192532

Ebook Edition © July 2017 ISBN: 9780008228545

Version: 2017-05-22

CONTENTS

Cover (#uffd4f16a-384b-5ef6-9d63-724e5af79b1c)

Title Page (#u3461baaf-1596-59f0-91b7-2f918b893a2f)

Copyright (#ulink_c658a9f9-b456-5dce-b37c-3df32db8ed2d)

Preface and Acknowledgements (#ulink_2d86776d-2da1-5b08-971a-558d9ad07ed8)

Screwtape Proposes a Toast (#ulink_7b353e75-b073-5e9b-80fb-0edbd891c313)

AN ADDRESS

The Inner Ring (#ulink_7b3be884-f76e-5167-99a8-f25125a49283)

AN ORATION

Is Theology Poetry? (#litres_trial_promo)

A PAPER

On Obstinacy in Belief (#litres_trial_promo)

A PAPER

Transposition (#litres_trial_promo)

A SERMON

The Weight of Glory (#litres_trial_promo)

A SERMON

Good Work and Good Works (#litres_trial_promo)

A PAPER

A Slip of the Tongue (#litres_trial_promo)

A SERMON

Footnotes (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)

Other Books By C.S. Lewis (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS (#ulink_4306d00d-58db-59a3-932b-f75cd75c87fa)

C. S. Lewis had finished putting this book together shortly before his death on 22nd November 1963. It is devoted almost entirely to religion and the pieces are derived from various sources. Some of them have appeared in They Asked for a Paper (Geoffrey Bles, London 1962, 21s.), a collection whose subjects included literature, ethics and theology. ‘Screwtape Proposes a Toast’ was initially published in Great Britain as part of a hard-covered book called The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast (Geoffrey Bles, London 1961, 12s. 6d.). This consisted of the original ‘The Screwtape Letters’, together with the ‘Toast’, and also a new preface by Lewis. Meantime, ‘Screwtape Proposes a Toast’ had already appeared in the United States, first as an article in The Saturday Evening Post and then during 1960 in a hard-covered collection, The World’s Last Night (Harcourt Brace and World, New York).

In the new preface for The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast, which we have reprinted in this book, Lewis explains the conception and birth of the ‘Toast’. It would be quite wrong to call the address ‘another Screwtape letter’. What he described as the technique of ‘diabolical ventriloquism’ is indeed still there: Screwtape’s whites are our blacks and whatever he welcomes we should dread. But, whilst the form still broadly persists, there its affinity to the original Letters ends. They were mainly concerned with the moral life of an individual; in the ‘Toast’ the substance of the quest is now rather the need to respect and foster the mind of the young boy and girl.

‘A Slip of the Tongue’ (a sermon preached in Magdalene College Chapel) appears in a book for the first time. ‘The Inner Ring’ was a Memorial Oration delivered at King’s College, University of London in 1944; ‘Is Theology Poetry?’ and ‘On Obstinacy in Belief’ were both papers read to the Socratic Club, subsequently first appearing in the ‘Socratic Digest’ in 1944 and 1955 respectively. ‘Transposition’ is a slightly fuller version of a sermon preached in Mansfield College, Oxford; whilst ‘The Weight of Glory’ was a sermon given in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, and first published by SPCK. All these five papers were published by kind permission in They Asked for a Paper. ‘Good Work and Good Works’ first appeared in The Catholic Art Quarterly and then in The World’s Last Night.

At the end of his preface to They Asked for a Paper, Lewis wrote: ‘Since these papers were composed at various times during the last twenty years, passages in them which some readers may find reminiscent of my later work are in fact anticipatory or embryonic. I have allowed myself to be persuaded that such overlaps were not a fatal objection to their republication.’ We are delighted that he allowed himself to be persuaded in the same way over this paperback collection of pieces on religious themes.

J.E.G.

SCREWTAPE PROPOSES A TOAST (#ulink_54cd364a-5f91-5382-832e-31d56159f4f8)

I was often asked or advised to add to the original “Screwtape Letters”, but for many years I felt not the least inclination to do it. Though I had never written anything more easily, I never wrote with less enjoyment. The ease came, no doubt, from the fact that the device of diabolical letters, once you have thought of it, exploits itself spontaneously, like Swift’s big and little men, or the medical and ethical philosophy of “Erewhon”, as Anstey’s Garuda Stone. It would run away with you for a thousand pages if you gave it its head. But though it was easy to twist one’s mind into the diabolical attitude, it was not fun, or not for long. The strain produced a sort of spiritual cramp. The world into which I had to project myself while I spoke through Screwtape was all dust, grit, thirst and itch. Every trace of beauty, freshness and geniality had to be excluded. It almost smothered me before I was done. It would have smothered my readers if I had prolonged it.

I had, moreover, a sort of grudge against my book for not being a different book which no one could write. Ideally, Screwtape’s advice to Wormwood should have been balanced by archangelical advice to the patient’s guardian angel. Without this the picture of human life is lop-sided. But who could supply the deficiency? Even if a man—and he would have to be a far better man than I—could scale the spiritual heights required, what “answerable style” could he use? For the style would really be part of the content. Mere advice would be no good; every sentence would have to smell of Heaven. And nowadays even if you could write prose like Traherne’s, you wouldn’t be allowed to, for the canon of “functionalism” has disabled literature for half its functions. (At bottom, every ideal of style dictates not only how we should say things but what sort of things we may say.)

Then, as years went on and the stifling experience of writing the “Letters” became a weaker memory, reflections on this and that which seemed somehow to demand Screwtapian treatment began to occur to me. I was resolved never to write another “Letter”. The idea of something like a lecture or “address” hovered vaguely in my mind, now forgotten, now recalled, never written. Then came an invitation from The Saturday Evening Post, and that pressed the trigger.

C.S.L.

THE SCENE is in Hell at the annual dinner of the Tempters’ Training College for young Devils. The Principal, Dr. Slubgob, has just proposed the health of the guests. Screwtape, who is the guest of honour, rises to reply:

Mr. Principal, your Imminence, your Disgraces, my Thorns, Shadies, and Gentledevils:It is customary on these occasions for the speaker to address himself chiefly to those among you who have just graduated and who will very soon be posted to official Tempterships on Earth. It is a custom I willingly obey. I well remember with what trepidation I awaited my own first appointment. I hope, and believe, that each one of you has the same uneasiness to-night. Your career is before you. Hell expects and demands that it should be—as Mine was—one of unbroken success. If it is not, you know what awaits you.

I have no wish to reduce the wholesome and realistic element of terror, the unremitting anxiety, which must act as the lash and spur to your endeavours. How often you will envy the humans their faculty of sleep! Yet at the same time I would wish to put before you a moderately encouraging view of the strategical situation as a whole.

Your dreaded Principal has included in a speech full of points something like an apology for the banquet which he has set before us. Well, gentledevils, no one blames him. But it would be vain to deny that the human souls on whose anguish we have been feasting to-night were of pretty poor quality. Not all the most skilful cookery of our tormentors could make them better than insipid.

Oh to get one’s teeth again into a Farinara, a Henry VIII, or even a Hitler! There was real crackling there; something to crunch; a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own. It put up a delicious resistance to being devoured. It warmed your innards when you’d got it down.

Instead of this, what have we had to-night? There was a municipal authority with Graft sauce. But personally I could not detect in him the flavour of a really passionate and brutal avarice such as delighted one in the great tycoons of the last century. Was he not unmistakably a Little Man—a creature of the petty rake-off pocketed with a petty joke in private and denied with the stalest platitudes in his public utterances—a grubby little nonentity who had drifted into corruption, only just realising that he was corrupt, and chiefly because everyone else did it? Then there was the lukewarm Casserole of Adulterers. Could you find in it any trace of a fully inflamed, defiant, rebellious, insatiable lust? I couldn’t. They all tasted to me like under-sexed morons who had blundered or trickled into the wrong beds in automatic response to sexy advertisements, or to make themselves feel modern and emancipated, or to reassure themselves about their virility or their “normalcy”, or even because they had nothing else to do. Frankly, to me who have tasted Messalina and Casanova, they were nauseating. The Trade Unionist garnished with Claptrap was perhaps a shade better. He had done some real harm. He had, not quite unknowingly, worked for bloodshed, famine, and the extinction of liberty. Yes, in a way. But what a way! He thought of those ultimate objectives so little. Toeing the party line, self-importance, and above all mere routine, were what really dominated his life.

But now comes the point. Gastronomically, all this is deplorable. But I hope none of us puts gastronomy first. Is it not, in another and far more serious way, full of hope and promise?
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