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Till We have Faces... A Myth Retold by C. S…
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Till We have Faces... A Myth Retold (original 1956; edition 1966)

by C. S Lewis

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,859100952 (4.25)2 / 192
Member:BobNolin
Title:Till We have Faces... A Myth Retold
Authors:C. S Lewis
Info:Time Inc (1966), Paperback, 275 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis (1956)

  1. 40
    Phantastes and Lilith, two novels by George MacDonald (charlie68)
  2. 20
    Cupid by Julius Lester (raizel)
    raizel: A retelling of the Psyche and Cupid myth; Lester's version is for a younger (teen
  3. 10
    Mythology by Edith Hamilton (sibyllacumaea)
  4. 10
    The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood (AnnaClaire)
    AnnaClaire: A different author retelling a different myth, but they still seem to fit together nicely.
  5. 00
    Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin (casvelyn)
    casvelyn: Both are stories of strong, motherless women with dysfunctional families who play a part in a mythical tale
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This was a fantasy that really touched me deeply and speaks to the reality of issues we experience within the soul C. s. Lewis is a master at portraying wounds of the soul. I was so touched by the dilemma within Oruel, the main character, and her struggles with life, love, and faith. I hated the ending because it ended!! I wanted to see the main character vindicated for all she went through, and in a way, she was, because she began to understand her plight, but there was really not a resolve. Someone else mentioned her plight was much like that of Job of the Bible. I agree. From one event to another--mostly painful for Oruel--the girl questions the meaning and significance of it. She stands nontheless, but what a journey! Yet, it is probably true of most, if not all of us: we question the sovereignty of a God who watches us in our journey through life without blatant intervention.

Anyway, it was meant to be a variation on the love between Cupid and Psyche, which feeds psychological questions and concepts, but as it was told by this author, it was deeply felt and understood. If a reader could not catch on, it may be that reader needs to get in touch with his or her own psyche. Super good storytelling. Worth reading. ( )
  socalnovelist | Jun 26, 2014 |


This was a fantasy that really touched me deeply and speaks to the reality of issues we experience within the soul C. s. Lewis is a master at portraying wounds of the soul. I was so touched by the dilemma within Oruel, the main character, and her struggles with life, love, and faith. I hated the ending because it ended!! I wanted to see the main character vindicated for all she went through, and in a way, she was, because she began to understand her plight, but there was really not a resolve. Someone else mentioned her plight was much like that of Job of the Bible. I agree. From one event to another--mostly painful for Oruel--the girl questions the meaning and significance of it. She stands nontheless, but what a journey! Yet, it is probably true of most, if not all of us: we question the sovereignty of a God who watches us in our journey through life without blatant intervention.

Anyway, it was meant to be a variation on the love between Cupid and Psyche, which feeds psychological questions and concepts, but as it was told by this author, it was deeply felt and understood. If a reader could not catch on, it may be that reader needs to get in touch with his or her own psyche. Super good storytelling. Worth reading. ( )
  socalnovelist | Jun 26, 2014 |
Istra is the most beautiful child you can possibly imagine -- sweet and wholesome as a summer's day. You would think that her older half-sister Orual would hate her, but quite the opposite is true. Since Istra's mother died in childbirth and their father the king cares little for his female offspring, Orual is free to mother and care for Istra. Along with their tutor, a Greek slave known as the Fox, they wander the hillsides surrounding the city, happy and free. But all is not well in the kingdom: there are rumors of war with surrounding nations, wild animals ravaging the countryside, and now a plague in the city. The priest of the goddess Ungit casts the lots, and they fall to the king's household. Istra must be sacrificed, left on the holy mountain for the Shadowbeast. Orual is devastated to the point of sickness herself. When she is able to leave her bed, she resolves to go to the mountain and care for her sister's remains. What she finds there, however, is Istra alive and healthy. Istra has been living in a small valley high in the hills, but she claims that it is a castle, though Orual sees only rocks and bushes. Istra claims that she dwells in her husband's house -- the house of the god of the mountain. He comes to her at night, and she is forbidden to see his face. Orual tries to persuade Istra to come home, or to go into hiding with her, but Istra will not leave her mysterious lover. Orual eventually convinces Istra to at least light a lamp and see what sort of creature she has married -- surely, Orual thinks, either some monstrous beast or else a vagabond living wild in the hills, who has preyed on Istra's mind, weakened from the trauma of being sacrificed. Orual is sure that, once Istra sees her bridegroom, she will return to her sister's care. She waits at a distance, watching in the night for Istra's light to appear . . .

This is the book I like to recommend to people who think they know C.S. Lewis. It's much more nuanced and subtle than the Narnia stories (though, don't get me wrong, I am an avid fan of those as well), and I would contest that this book is his strongest literary work, and Orual his best female character by far. She's both a nurturer and a warrior, both strong and flawed. She's clever and bitter and not afraid to speak her mind. If you haven't read this book, either because you haven't heard of it, or because you wrote off C.S. Lewis for one reason or another, I urge you to go find this book and read it. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote foggidawn | Jun 25, 2014 |
I'll come back and edit this with a proper reflection on the book. I liked it very much and found two things that particularly interested me. One is central to the story but tangential to the theme: I liked seeing Orual's development into a competent ruler; it was very convincing. More central to the theme was the problem of Orual's jealous love of Psyche, for which she's essentially willing to destroy Psyche. I know Lewis was concerned with/about this type of love--he addressed it in The Great Divorce, for sure, and possibly also in The Four Loves, but it's a type of love I have a hard time imagining. I've never experienced it on either side (I've never loved that way and I've never been the object of that sort of jealous love), which gets me musing on why some people do.

Okay a few further thoughts are now available on my Livejournal (and there's conversation in comments that expands on this--people have interesting things to add): (journal entry link).

Then in a note to a friend, I got to thinking about the characters, too: how they're all rich, all realized with depth, even the ones you don't like. C.S. Lewis is an amazing writer. ( )
  FrancescaForrest | May 12, 2014 |
I'll come back and edit this with a proper reflection on the book. I liked it very much and found two things that particularly interested me. One is central to the story but tangential to the theme: I liked seeing Orual's development into a competent ruler; it was very convincing. More central to the theme was the problem of Orual's jealous love of Psyche, for which she's essentially willing to destroy Psyche. I know Lewis was concerned with/about this type of love--he addressed it in The Great Divorce, for sure, and possibly also in The Four Loves, but it's a type of love I have a hard time imagining. I've never experienced it on either side (I've never loved that way and I've never been the object of that sort of jealous love), which gets me musing on why some people do.

Okay a few further thoughts are now available on my Livejournal (and there's conversation in comments that expands on this--people have interesting things to add): (journal entry link).

Then in a note to a friend, I got to thinking about the characters, too: how they're all rich, all realized with depth, even the ones you don't like. C.S. Lewis is an amazing writer. ( )
  FrancescaForrest | May 12, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lewis, C. S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Luca, AraldoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eichenberg, FritzCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindholm, AndersCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Love is too young to know what conscience is"
--Shakespeare
Dedication
To Joy Davidman
Joy Davidman
First words
I am old now and have not much to fear from the anger of gods.
Quotations
(Food for the gods must always be found somehow, even when the land starves.)
Now mark yet again the cruelty of the gods. There is no escape from them into sleep or madness, for they can pursue you into them with dreams. Indeed you are then most at their mercy. The nearest thing we have to a defence against them (but there is no real defence) is to be very wide awake and sober and hard at work, to hear no music, never to look at earth or sky, and (above all) to love no one.
Weakness, and work, are two comforts the gods have not taken from us.
To love, and to lose what we love, are equally things appointed for our nature. If we cannot bear the second well, that evil is ours.
The sight of the huge world put mad ideas into me; as if I could wander away, wander for ever, see strange and beautiful things, one after the other to the world's end.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156904365, Paperback)

At once more human and more mythic than his Perelandra trilogy, Lewis's short novel of love, faith, and transformation (both good and ill) offers the reader much food for thought in a compact, impressively rich story. Less heavy-handedly Christian-allegorical than Narnia, Till We Have Faces gives us characters who remind us of people we know facing choices and difficulties we recognize. This deceptively simple book takes on new depth with each rereading.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:29 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

From the Publisher: This tale of two princesses-one beautiful and one unattractive-and of the struggle between sacred and profane love is Lewis's reworking of the myth of Cupid and Psyche and one of his most enduring works.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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