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Till We have Faces... A Myth Retold by C. S…

Till We have Faces... A Myth Retold (original 1956; edition 1966)

by C. S Lewis

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5,074107884 (4.24)2 / 195
Title:Till We have Faces... A Myth Retold
Authors:C. S Lewis
Info:Time Inc (1966), Paperback, 275 pages
Collections:Your library

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. 20
    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.
  4. 10
    Mythology by Edith Hamilton (sibyllacumaea)
  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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Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
I loved Till We Have Faces. I have never read any of C. S. Lewis's books for adults. I recall having a few religious friends in high school recommend The Screwtape Letters to me, but I shied away. As a child, I read a few of the Narnia books. I stopped because something nebulous about A Horse and His Boy made twelve-year-old me extremely uncomfortable. As an adult, I realized that the nebulous thing was racism. But even before I realized that, I'd been turned off of Lewis. He didn't appeal to me.

I might have to revisit that, because I thought Will We Have Faces was wonderful. I thought it was beautifully written. It evoked classical mythology so authentically but was simultaneously very accessible to the modern reader. It also presents some intriguing philosophical questions.

Orual and Psyche represent two very different views of religious belief. Orual struggles against the gods, angry about their interventions or lack thereof. Orual trusts in herself instead of the gods and becomes her own woman independent of all others, god and man alike. Psyche, by contrast, trusts in the gods implicitly, letting her life be guided by their actions. Psyche comes to religion from a place of service and humility.

Although Part II undoes Orual's characterization, bringing her firmly back into the religious camp, the bulk of the book focuses on her original journey. While Orual represents many of the weaknesses of the human condition, I connected with her. That rage against the supernatural's indifference, that decision to rely only on herself -- it spoke to me.

Orual is not a good person. She loves Psyche jealously in the classical, self-centered sense of the word. She cannot let Psyche go. But her actions in response to the gods' cruelty were so relatable to the modern, secular human. Nothing like an ancient tale to connect us to modernity.

Orual ends up discovering that until we can judge and assess ourselves, we cannot ask the gods to judge us. But the happiness she gains from this revelation is no greater than Psyche's happiness from her pure trust in the gods. So who should we aspire to be: Orual, who discovers her faith, or Psyche, who has it all along? ( )
  sparemethecensor | Jul 23, 2015 |
This reminded me of Steppenwolf--probably because the narrator has a bad trip in the end, not bad is the sense of unfortunate, but bad in the sense of unpleasant. But I haven't read Steppenwolf recently enough to say more than that. Unpleasantness is sometimes the only way to get past the way we've packaged things up so nicely. Indeed, the purpose of the packaging is, at least in part, to avoid. Orual's first book, her list of complaints, is such a packaging.

The second, the log of her bad trip, is the one in which she gives up (gradually) her egoic perception (as indeed, the struggle in any bad trip is about) and can see more. It is almost psychoanalytic at times in a way that play of C. S. Lewis meeting Freud, "Freud's Last Session", never gets close to. The events of her life play out the themes of her neurotic compromises with reality. The defense mechanisms outlined by Freud's daughter Anna turn out to work better as a novel's tropes than as clinical categories. Lewis doesn't force it to assume a Christian mold (as I'm always afraid he will) and keeps to the story which takes place in pre-Christian times. And the story's characters don't fall into the roles of advocating for philosophical positions (as I also always fear of Lewis's works.)

I'd like to wrap this review up in a neat package too, but like Orual's story, I'll just stop in the middle of

( )
  Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
Till We Have Faces; a novel of Cupid and Psyche. C. S. Lewis. 1956. I have spend far too much time saying I don’t like fantasy and myth. This was a wonderful book! Lewis is a gifted stylist and just reading the book was a pleasure. Like the other books we have read in Dipso, we looked for aspects that reflect Christianity. Tolkien felt that myth was an “imperfect reflection of what is revealed in the Gospel.” Lewis used the myth of Cupid and Psyche explore his idea of the four kinds of love. For a full discussion of this see “C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces and the Transformation of Love” in Logos 14:4 Fall, 2011. ( )
  judithrs | Feb 19, 2015 |
I enjoyed this retelling of the Pysche and Cupid myth. I especially liked seeing the story from Psyche's sister Orual's POV and thus learning about her motivation, which was lacking from the original.

However, maybe because I had just read the original story in [b:The Golden Ass|741223|The Golden Ass|Apuleius|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1177899975s/741223.jpg|1741202], I found myself a bit bored because there really wasn't that much added to the original in regards to actual plot. It was almost all fleshing out of the story, which as I said was good, but just didn't hook my interest since I knew where the story was heading. I think the story would have seemed much more interesting though if I didn't already know the myth.

The only thing new I found in regards to plot was around the last 10-15 pages which ended on, what was for me, a very preachy note that isn't my cup of tea. It felt a bit unnecessary and tacked on. I feel like the rest of the retelling could have stood on its own just fine without the religious message at the end, but of course I understand that coming from C.S. Lewis, it's practically required.

Overall though, even with the end, the retelling is written well and is a good version of the story especially for readers who are new to the mythology of Cupid and Pysche. ( )
  luminescent_bookworm | Jan 27, 2015 |
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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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"Love is too young to know what conscience is"
To Joy Davidman
Joy Davidman
First words
I am old now and have not much to fear from the anger of gods.
(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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:30 -0400)

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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.

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