The Screwtape Letters.
"There is no other fire but this, This speck of life, this fading spark": The Screwtape Letters; signed by C.S. Lewis with an inscription of his poem The Salamander
The Screwtape Letters.
Item Number: 143837
London: Geoffrey Bles: The Centenary Press, 1945.
Early printing of Lewis‘ classic novel of spiritual conflict, one of his most celebrated works; signed by him with his poem The Salamader in the year it was published in The Spectator. Octavo, original publisher’s cloth. Signed by the author on the front free endpaper, “C. S. Lewis” and inscribed by him on the final free endpaper with an inscription of his poem The Salamander which was published in the same year (1945) in The Spectator, “The Salamander I stared in to the fire: – blue waves of shuddering hear that rose and fell and blazing ships and binding caves Canyons and street and hills of hell. The presently amidst it all I saw a living creature crawl. Foreword it crept, and shoved its snout Between the bars, and with sad eyes Into my quiet room look out As men look out upon the skies, And from its scalding throat there came A faint voice hissing like a flame;- ‘This is the end, the stratosphere, The rim of the world where all life dies. The vertigo of space, the fear of nothingness before me lies, gazing through distances untold of unimaginative cold. ‘Faint lights that fitfully appear Far off in the immense abyss are but reflections cast from here, There is no other fire but this, This speck of life, this fading spark Enlisted in the unbounded dark. ‘Long since (though wishes bait the hook will takes our ancestors believed) Behind Nature’s measureless rebuke To all we value I received. I face with an unflinching eye. Negation’s blank immensity.’ C.S.L. 1945.” The present inscription may have preceded the publication of The Salamander as it contains a number of textual differences. Very good in a very good supplied dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box made by the Harcourt Bindery. A unique and highly desirable example.
Lewis’ reputation as a significant author rests on not only his cherished children’s series the Chronicles of Narnia but also his many works of Christian apologetics, arguably none of which is more innovative and incisive than The Screwtape Letters. Upon publication it proved “particularly successful… thanks to its device (worthy of Jonathan Swift) of preaching by ironic implication via a senior demon’s advice to a junior on how best to tempt and ensnare; the ‘Lowerarchy’ of Hell also allows satire on bureaucracy” (Clute & Grant, 578). “An ingenious exercise” (Fantasy and Horror 5-178) and “a profound analysis of the pitfalls that confront a Christian living in the 20th century” (Magill, 1068).