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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 2017)

by C. S. Lewis (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,478143923 (4.24)3 / 244
"A repackaged edition of the revered author's retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche -- what he and many others regard as his best novel. C. S. Lewis -- the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other beloved classics -- brilliantly reimagines the story of Cupid and Psyche. Told from the viewpoint of Psyche's sister, Orual, Till We Have Faces is a brilliant examination of envy, betrayal, loss, blame, grief, guilt, and conversion. In this, his final -- and most mature and masterful -- novel, Lewis reminds us of our own fallibility and the role of a higher power in our lives"--… (more)
Member:Ahobso21
Title:Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
Authors:C. S. Lewis (Author)
Info:HarperOne (2017), Edition: Reissue, 368 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:None

Work Information

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C. S. Lewis (1956)

  1. 40
    Phantastes and Lilith, two novels by George MacDonald (charlie68)
  2. 30
    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.
  3. 20
    Circe by Madeline Miller (bjappleg8)
  4. 20
    Mythology by Edith Hamilton (sibyllacumaea)
  5. 20
    Cupid: A Tale of Love and Desire by Julius Lester (raizel)
    raizel: A retelling of the Psyche and Cupid myth; Lester's version is for a younger (teen
  6. 10
    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
  7. 00
    The Golden Ass. Being the Metamorphoses of Lucius Apuleius. [Loeb Classical Library No. 44] by Apuleius (TheLittlePhrase)
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Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed the retelling of the Cupid & Psyche myth, and Orual was a great character. And I appreciated some of the concepts about faith and divinity, insofar as they weren’t specifically Christian. But the ending took a deep dive into Christian theology, even if not explicitly so, which kind of marred for me what would have been an excellent book. ( )
  Charon07 | Nov 4, 2021 |
This is one of those books you need to take at a slow pace, preferably in a group or with a guide. There’s a lot to it just on the surface, and I can tell there’s also a lot deeper down. I’ll come back to it sometime. ( )
  Annrosenzweig | Oct 15, 2021 |
I have never read a book by C. S. Lewis that didn't make me think. This book made me think, but even more, it made me feel guilty. Because I am guilty. Orual was me- in a way. I think I'm ugly, I definitely have bad ideas about my self worth, and my love for other people sometimes is unhealthy for me (I am not self-destructive, though). That got me thinking about other people (like Orual) that have the same tendencies and how, really, it all comes back to abuse and education. This is just a meandering plethora of thoughts that has almost nothing to do with the story...

Back to the book- I think that this is definitely C. S. Lewis's greatest work for adults. I couldn't tell you half of what happened, but it made me change myself. It was, in a way, a tender mercy from God telling me that HE is the answer. He is always the answer. And change is possible. I loved the Fox, Bardia (?), and Psyche. I couldn't help loving Psyche. I initially read this because of [b:Rose in Bloom|17533|Rose in Bloom (Eight Cousins, #2)|Louisa May Alcott|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1344269387s/17533.jpg|2080617] by Louisa May Alcott in which the character talks at length about this myth. I was not disappointed, and I was glad for the time that it gave me to do take emotional inventory of myself. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
To me, the best of Lewis. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Till We Have Faces
Series: ----------
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Allegory
Pages: 309
Words: 84K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The story tells the ancient Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, from the perspective of Orual, Psyche's older sister.

It begins as the complaint of Orual as an old woman, who is bitter at the injustice of the gods. She has always been ugly, but after her mother dies and her father the King of Glome remarries, she gains a beautiful half-sister Istra, whom she loves as her own daughter, and who is known throughout the novel by the Greek version of her name, Psyche. Psyche is so beautiful that the people of Glome begin to offer sacrifices to her as to a goddess. The Priest of the goddess Ungit, a powerful figure in the kingdom, then informs the king that various plagues befalling the kingdom are a result of Ungit's jealousy, so Psyche is sent as a human sacrifice to the unseen "God of the Mountain" at the command of Ungit, the mountain-god's mother. Orual plans to rescue Psyche but falls ill and is unable to prevent anything.

When she is well again, Orual arranges to go to where Psyche was stranded on the mountain, either to rescue her or to bury what remains of her. She is stunned to find Psyche is alive, free from the shackles in which she had been bound, and furthermore says she does not need to be rescued in any way. Rather, Psyche relates that she lives in a beautiful castle that Orual cannot see, as the God of the Mountain has made her a bride rather than a victim. At one point in the narrative, Orual believes she has a brief vision of this castle, but then it vanishes like a mist. Hearing that Psyche has been commanded by her new god-husband not to look on his face (all their meetings are in the nighttime), Orual is immediately suspicious. She argues that the god must be a monster, or that Psyche has actually started to hallucinate after her abandonment and near-death on the mountain, that there is no such castle at all, and that her husband is actually an outlaw who was hiding on the mountain and takes advantage of her delusions in order to have his way with her. Orual says that because either possibility is one that she cannot abide by, she must disabuse her sister of this illusion.

She returns a second time, bringing Psyche a lamp for her to use while her "husband" sleeps, and when Psyche insists that she will not betray her husband by disobeying his command, Orual threatens both Psyche and herself, stabbing herself in the arm to show she is capable of following through on her threat. Ultimately, reluctantly, Psyche agrees because of the coercion and her love for her sister.

When Psyche disobeys her husband, she is immediately banished from her beautiful castle and forced to wander as an exile. The God of the Mountain appears to Orual, stating that Psyche must now endure hardship at the hand of a force he himself could not fight (likely his mother the goddess Ungit), and that "You too shall be Psyche," which Orual attempts to interpret for the rest of her life, usually taking it to mean that as Psyche suffers, she must suffer also. She decries the injustice of the gods, saying that if they had shown her a picture of Psyche's happiness that was easier to believe, she would not have ruined it. From this day forward she vows that she will keep her face veiled at all times.

Eventually, Orual becomes a Queen, and a warrior, diplomat, architect, reformer, politician, legislator, and judge, though all the while remaining alone. She drives herself, through work, to forget her grief and the love she has lost. Psyche is gone, her other family she never cared for, and her beloved tutor, "the Fox," has died. Her main love interest throughout the novel, Bardia the captain of the royal guard, is married and forever faithful to his wife until his death. To her, the gods remain, as ever, silent, unseen, and merciless.

While Bardia is on his deathbed, Orual decides she can no longer stand the sight of her own kingdom and decides to leave it for the first time to visit neighboring kingdoms. While resting on her journey, she leaves her group at their camp and follows sounds from within a wood, which turn out to be coming from a temple to the goddess Istra (Psyche). There Orual hears a version of Psyche's myth, which shows her as deliberately ruining her sister's life out of envy. In response, she writes out her own story, as set forth in the book, to set the record straight. Her hope is that it will be brought to Greece, where she has heard that men are willing to question even the gods.

Part Two

Orual begins the second part of the book stating that her previous accusation that the gods are unjust is wrong. She does not have time to rewrite the whole book because she is very old and of ill health and will likely die before it can be redone, so instead she is adding on to the end.

She relates that since finishing part one of the book, she has experienced a number of dreams and visions, which at first she doubts the truth of except that they also start happening during daytime when she is fully awake. She sees herself being required to perform a number of impossible tasks, like sorting a giant mound of different seeds into separate piles, with no allowance for error, or collecting the golden wool from a flock of murderous rams, or fetching a bowl of water from a spring on a mountain which cannot be climbed and furthermore is covered with poisonous beasts. It is in the midst of this last vision that she is led to a huge chamber in the land of the dead and given the opportunity to read out her complaint in the gods' hearing. She discovers, however, that instead of reading the book she has written, she reads off a paper that appears in her hand and contains her true feelings, which are indeed less noble than Part One of the book would suggest. Still, rather than being jealous of Psyche, as the story she heard in the temple suggested, she reveals that she was jealous of the gods because they were allowed to enjoy Psyche's love while she herself was not.

The gods make no reply, but Orual is content, as she sees that the gods' "answer" was really to make her understand the truth of her own feelings. Then she is led by the ghost of the Fox into a sunlit arena in which she learns the story of what Psyche has been up to: she has herself been assigned the impossible tasks from Orual's dreams, but was able to complete them with supernatural help. Orual then leaves the arena to enter another verdant field with a clear pool of water and a brilliant sky. There she meets Psyche, who has just returned from her last errand: retrieving a box of beauty from the underworld, which she then gives to Orual, though Orual is hardly conscious of this because at that moment she begins to sense that something else is happening. The God of the Mountain is coming to be with Psyche and judge Orual, but the only thing he says is "You also are Psyche" before the vision ends. The reader is led to understand that this phrase has actually been one of mercy the entire time.

Orual, awoken from the vision, dies shortly thereafter but has just enough time to record her visions and to write that she no longer hates the gods but sees that their very presence is the answer she always needed.

My Thoughts:

When I read this for the first time 20 years ago I have to admit, I didn't understand what Lewis was driving at or even trying to accomplish beyond retelling one of his favorite myths. And that is another reason Why I Re-Read Books. Therefore I stand before you today to announce that I completely understand this book now and every detailed nuance is as a flashing neon sign to my vast and experienced intellect.

Hahahahahahahaahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

Oh man, yeah, right. * wipes tears of laughter away *

While I enjoyed this and thought Lewis did a masterful job of writing, I don't understand what he was trying to get across any better than I did all those years ago.

Let me be clear though. That is completely on me. I have about one teaspoon's worth of artistry in my 165lb frame (which is about a fingernail clipping's worth) and I have used it up choosing black suspenders and a black bow tie to wear to church. When an author chooses to do something literary, it either passes right over my head (like this) or it comes across as pretentious and I rip the guy a new one. I need the obvious, the hammer over the head, the straight up statement. Allegory is not my thing and I feel like I'm color blind.

I still did enjoy this but I don't think I'll ever re-read it again. I will stick to Lewis' other works where he simply spells out what he's trying to say.

★★★☆☆ ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Apr 9, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lewis, C. S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
BascoveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Luca, AraldoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover 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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"A repackaged edition of the revered author's retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche -- what he and many others regard as his best novel. C. S. Lewis -- the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other beloved classics -- brilliantly reimagines the story of Cupid and Psyche. Told from the viewpoint of Psyche's sister, Orual, Till We Have Faces is a brilliant examination of envy, betrayal, loss, blame, grief, guilt, and conversion. In this, his final -- and most mature and masterful -- novel, Lewis reminds us of our own fallibility and the role of a higher power in our lives"--

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