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Fact Check: Quote falsely attributed to C.S. Lewis on “fear of getting sick”

Users on social media are sharing a quote misattributed to C.S. Lewis that describes “the fear of getting sick” and its effects, suggesting that the British writer prophesied the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is no evidence Lewis ever wrote these words.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The alleged quote begins “And how did you manage to bring so many souls to hell at that time? -Because of fear (…) Fear of getting sick.” The exchange continues “they had no human contact for days and days”, “they lost their jobs, spent all their savings” and “they did not leave their house, did not walk, did not visit their relatives.”

One version of the claim ( here ) alleges the quote appears in Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters”, published in 1942. It consists of a set of letters from a devil, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood, in which Lewis examines theological issues related to temptation ( here ).

The exchange presented in this claim does not appear in the book ( here ) .

Other iterations (here, here , here and here) attribute the extract to a book by C.S. Lewis allegedly titled “The Devil's Letters to His Nephew”. This is a direct translation from the Spanish edition of The Screwtape Letters (known in Spanish as “Cartas del Diablo a su sobrino”) ( amzn.to/2WbiyS3 )

Professor Joel Heck of Concordia University Texas, author of four books on C.S. Lewis, told Reuters these words were not written by the author. “It’s not Lewis. The theology [apparently Christian] fits Lewis, and the language sounds a bit Screwtapian, so it lends itself to believability,” Heck said in an email.

William O'Flaherty, a researcher of quotations falsely attributed to C. S. Lewis, also debunked this quote here .

The Reuters Fact Check team has previously debunked another quote misattributed to Lewis, who is best known as the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia” here .

VERDICT

False. C.S. Lewis did not write the “prophetic” words attributed to him in the post.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here

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