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Screwtape Haunts in Eden

Taylor 2016

Brenton Dickieson

on 16 June 2016

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Transcript of Screwtape Haunts in Eden

When Screwtape Haunts in Eden:
by Brenton Dickieson
: spiritual direction vs. historical artifact
: what is hell like? what is hell's relationship to earth?
: what is the diabolical method of dating?
: what is Lewis's role in The Screwtape Letters?
Some Elements of the Screwtape Universe
Preface to "The Screwtape Letters"
There are basic instructions to help the audience understand the demonic character of Screwtape ("two equal and opposite errors," "the devil is a liar," "wishful thinking in Hell")
There is some connection to WWII culture, but the connection is not precise nor the chronology essential to understand the letters. Like New Testament letters, they have both a universal and particular nature.
There is a "diabolical method of dating"--a diabolical world where the method of recording time is not 60 minutes an hour.
Despite being in the throes of WWII, war is not the great evil.
C.S. Lewis does not write the letters, but discovers them ("fell into my hands").
Dear Sister Penelope
... you started me on a quite new realisation of what is meant by being ‘in Christ’, and immediately after that ‘the power which erring men call chance’ put into my hands Mascall’s two books in the Signpost series which continued the process....
I have had to refuse a request from Sister Janet. Will you tell her that the ‘wives and oxen’ are quite real ones? I enclose the MS. of Screwtape. If it is not a trouble I shd. like you to keep it safe until the book is printed (in case the one the publisher has got blitzed)–after that it can be made into spills or used to stuff dolls or anything....
yours sincerely
Clive Lewis
The Screwtape Manuscript
Nothing will induce me to reveal how my friend Dr. Ransom got hold of the script which is translated in the following pages.
Who Found the Letters?
But it is, however, too late to make any mystery of the process whereby Dr. Ransom learned the language. The original of these letters is written in what may be called Old Solar—the primitive speech of all rational creatures inhabiting the solar system. How Ransom came to learn it I have already related in a book called Out of the Silent Planet; but when I wrote that book he and I were both mistaken in supposing it to be the local speech of a single planet [world]—that planet [world] which its inhabitants call Malacandra. We now know better, but there is no time within this preface to discuss the problems of extra-terrestrial philology involved.
The Language of Lewis' Fictional Universe
We have a more complete understanding of the Manuscript History of The Screwtape Letters, giving us a greater sense of how Lewis conceived of, composed, and kept his stories.
We should think of the Screwtape Letters as part of the speculative universe in the Ransom Trilogy. In essence, we have a Ransom Cycle, rather than a Ransom Trilogy.
What this Means for Lewis Scholarship
1.The Berg MS: C.S. Lewis’ handwritten 31 letters on 93 leaves, sent to Sr. Penelope on Oct 9, 1941 and sold to the Berg Collection at the New York City Public Library.
2.The Neylan MS: a typed manuscript on 82 leaves with publisher’s notes, sent to Mary Neylan on Oct 20, 1941 and supplied to the Wade Center in Wheaton, IL.
3.Bles Galley Proofs: Lewis’ letter to Neylan and standard publication protocol suggests that there was also a type set proof.
4.The Guardian original print run: given its unique use of the handwritten Berg MS it could be considered a separate “manuscript” in a conceptual sense.
Various Screwtape Manuscripts
“What language do you mean?” [Lewis asked]
“Hressa-Hlab, of course," [Ransom answered.] "The language I learned in Malacandra.”
“But surely you don’t imagine they will speak the same language on Venus?”
“Didn’t I tell you about that?” said Ransom, leaning forward. We were now at table and had nearly finished our cold meat and beer and tea. “I’m surprised I didn’t, for I found out two or three months ago, and scientifically it is one of the most interesting things about the whole affair. It appears we were quite mistaken in thinking Hressa-Hlab the peculiar speech of Mars. It is really what may be called Old Solar, Hlab-Eribol-ef-Cordi.”
“What on earth do you mean?”
“I mean that there was originally a common speech for all rational creatures inhabiting the planets of our system: those that were ever inhabited, I mean—what the eldils call the Low Worlds. Most of them, of course, have never been inhabited and never will be. At least not what we’d call inhabited. That original speech was lost on Thulcandra, our own world, when our whole tragedy took place. No human language now known in the world is descended from it.”
The Language of Lewis' Fictional Universe
"I think it is tough to deny that you have stumbled upon a game-changer—akin to Ward’s Planet Narnia. The difference is that you base your argument on empirical evidence: the manuscript history of Screwtape."

"This changes everything!"
I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands.
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.... The sort of script which is used in this book can be very easily obtained by anyone who has once learned the knack; but disposed or excitable people who might make a bad use of it shall not learn it from me.
Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar....
In conclusion, I ought to add that no effort has been made to clear up the chronology of the letters....
Features of the Screwtape Preface
Dear Mrs. Neylan,
I’m just sending the proofs* of the enclosed back to the publisher and wondered if you wd. care to amuse yourself with the MS. You might keep it till the book appears, in case of accidents: after that it can be made into spills. I’ve just read two books in the Signpost series by Mascall—Man. His Origins and Destiny and The God-Man (Dacre Press 1/6) both of which I thought excellent. I hope Dan and Sarah and yourself are all well. I got your address from Fr. Adams this morning.
yours sincerely
C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Manuscript
I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands.
“the sort of script which is used in this book can be very easily obtained by anyone who has once learned the knack”
But it should be added that the translation is necessarily very free. The capital letters used for pronouns when they refer to that Being whom Screwtape describes as the Enemy are, for example, a most ingenious device of Ransom’s for representing a quite different (and involuntary) phenomenon in the original. On the other hand many words mentioned where Screwtape is discussing what he calls “the Philological Arm” were already English, for naturally devils whose terrain is England are well skilled in the language of their proposed victims.
The Language of Lewis' Fictional Universe
1. Out of the Silent Planet (Space Fiction/Wellsian Science Fiction, 1938)
2. The Dark Tower (unpublished, incomplete Time Travel Fantasy, 1939?)
3. The Screwtape Letters (Demonic Epistolary Fiction, 1940-1941)
4. Perelandra ("A Novel," Miltonian-SciFi Fantasy, 1941-1942)
5. That Hideous Strength ("A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups," Arthurian Oxford Fantasy, 1944-1945)
The Ransom Cycle
1. Language and Script
2. The Unman
3. Other:
Cosmology & Cosmogeny
SciFi vs. All-encompassing Myth (mythopoiea)
Epistolary Fiction
Lewis as a Character in his own Fiction
The Role of Earth (The Silent Planet, Thulcandra) in the Arbol Universe
The Way that Lewis Created Worlds
4. Moreover, considering The Screwtape Letters more seriously as part of Lewis's WWII fiction leads to a rereading of the Ransom books. I argue here that
(1942) presupposed
(1941), and
's influence is seen in
That Hideous Strength
Possibilities in the Screwtape-Ransom Universe
Testing the Possibilities of the Screwtape-Ransom Speculative Universe
I mean the “other world” not of religion, but of imagination; the land of longing, the Earthly Paradise, the garden east of the sun and west of the moon. Just as the gods—and their homes—are fading into mere decoration, in the mythological poets of this age, we catch a glimpse of the new life and the new dwellings that poetry will find for them (75-6).
The Allegory of Love
The probable, the marvellous-taken-as-fact, the marvellous-known-to-be-fiction—such is the triple equipment of the post-Renaissance poet. Such were the three worlds which Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton were born to. London and Warwick, Heaven and Hell, Fairyland and Prospero’s Island–each has its own laws and its appropriate poetry (82-3).
The Allegory of Love
The starting point of the second novel, Perelandra, was my mental picture of the floating islands. The whole of the rest of my labours in a sense consisted of building up a world in which floating islands could exist. And then of course the story about an averted fall developed. This is because, as you know, having got your people to this exciting country, something must happen (“Unreal Estates” 87).
1. Only the stores gravitate!
2. Talking does not use oxygen.
3. Leave out “The earth was no longer visible.”
4. Augray’s explanation of rare air wrong (and unnecessary)
5. “Within the earth’s orbit” not clear enough.
6. “Yard after yard” (of the hross) absurd.
7. Height of Sorns, check
8. Hross & ______?
9. Weston’s failure in observation.
List of Edits for "Out of the Silent Planet"
Edits for "Out of the Silent Planet"
“a collection of rolls, seemingly of skin, covered with characters” (OSP 101)
“The hrossa used to have many books of poetry.... But now they have fewer. They say that the writing of books destroys poetry” (OSP 101)
“I admit I don’t understand about [the other languages]. One thing I do know, and I believe I could prove it on purely philological grounds. They are incomparably less ancient than Hressa-Hlab, specially Surnibur, the speech of the Sorns. I believe it could be shown that Surnibur is, by Malacandrian standards, quite a modern development. I doubt if its birth can be put farther back than a date which would fall within our Cambrian Period” (Perelandra 25).
How did Ransom learn the writing system?
“A gap in the coherence of Lewis’s invention arises here” (Verlyn Flieger, “The Sound of Silence," 53)
Old Solar Writing System?
I have naturally no wish to enlarge on this phase of my story. The state of mind I was in was one which I look back on with humiliation. I would have passed it over if I did not think that some account of it was necessary for a full understanding of what follows—and, perhaps, of some other things as well. At all events, I can’t really describe how I reached the front door of the cottage. Somehow or other, despite the loathing and dismay that pulled me back and a sort of invisible wall of resistance that met me in the face, fighting for each step, and almost shrieking as a harmless spray of the hedge touched my face, I managed to get through the gate and up the little path. And there I was, drumming on the door and wringing the handle and shouting to him to let me in as if my life depended on it (Perelandra 15).
4. On the Edge of Madness
“You got through the barrage without any damage?” [Ransom asked].
“The barrage?—I don’t understand.”
“I was thinking you would have met some difficulties in getting here.”
“Oh, that!” said I. “You mean it wasn’t just my nerves? There really was something in the way?”
“Yes: They didn’t want you to get here. I was afraid something of the sort might happen but there was no time to do anything about it. I was pretty sure you’d get through somehow.”
“By they you mean the others—our own eldila?”
“Of course. They’ve got wind of what’s on hand ...”
I interrupted him. “To tell you the truth, Ransom,” I said, “I’m getting more worried every day about the whole business. It came into my head as I was on my way here—”
“Oh, they’ll put all sorts of things into your head if you let them,” said Ransom lightly. “The best plan is to take no notice and keep straight on. Don’t try to answer them. They like drawing you into an interminable argument (Perelandra 21).
4. On the Edge of Madness
“What proof,” said Ransom (who indeed did feel frightened), “what proof have you that you are being guided or supported by anything except your own individual mind and other people’s books?”
“You didn’t notice, dear Ransom,” said Weston, “that I’d improved a bit since we last met in my knowledge of extraterrestrial language. You are a philologist, they tell me.”
Ransom started. “How did you do it?” he blurted out.
“Guidance, you know, guidance,” croaked Weston. He was squatting at the roots of his tree with his knees drawn up, and his face, now the colour of putty, wore a fixed and even slightly twisted grin. “Guidance. Guidance,” he went on. “Things coming into my head. I’m being prepared all the time. Being made a fit receptacle for it” (Perelandra 94).
2. Guidance. You Know, Guidance
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