Till We Have Faces…A Myth Retold by CS Lewis

Till we have faces;: A myth retoldTakeaway: An unusual re-telling of a greek myth.

I have never heard of this book before I stumbled across it on Audible.  I was in the mood for some fiction and wasn’t really interested in any of the books that I had in my wishlist.  After surfing around a little while I found that this book.  It was the last real fiction book he wrote.  It was written and published during his early relationship with Joy Davidman.

Till We Have Faces

According to Wikipedia and the book’s introduction, this was a book Lewis was thinking about from his early days in college.  It is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche.  (Although I had no idea what the myth was till after I read the book.)

The basic story is that a princess, Orual, raised her sister after the death of her step mother in childbirth.  The sister, Psyche, was the most beautiful girl anyone had ever seen while Orual was very ugly.  The sisters were separated and the younger sister was married to a God.  But the Orual was convinced that the God was not real or that if there was a husband, it was actually a man that was wrong for her sister.  She convinces Psyche to violate the conditions of the marriage and the God leaves.  But Orual and Psyche are not reunited.

Till We Have Faces

Orual, after living as Queen and ruling her country well for many years, writes a book of complaint against the Gods over her losses and bad treatment.

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

It is a well written and interesting story, but very different from anything else I have read of Lewis.  While it clearly deals with religious themes and the concept of love, meaning and calling, it is not direct allegory like what some of Lewis’ other books are.

Obviously you do not need any background in the original Greek myths, since I know anything about them first.  But you may enjoy it more.

I am intrigued by all the different covers that there have been.  These are just four, but since it was originally published more than 55 years ago, it has had many editions.

Purchase Links: Paperback, Audible.com Audiobook, Kindle Edition (Kindle Unlimited with Narration)

4 Comments

Till We Have Faces is by far my favorite Lewis fiction book, and the only one I’ve read twice. I was really amazed how he explored the idea of suffering and pain and having Orual ask the same questions we do, and having the same attitude as someone in mourning. Questioning the gods, blaming people, etc.

    I am not sure it would be my favorite. I still need to get around to reading the Space Trilogy some day. But I thought it was very good. I did find it interesting that he started writing it before he became a Christian and in some ways it very clearly deals with religious themes, but in a much less overtly Christian way than the Narnia books. It may be because he started working on it before he became a Christian. Or it just my be the way he was re-telling a greek myth that he intentionally ‘de-Christianized’ it a bit.

      interesting. didn’t know that.

      I liked Out of the Silent Planet. Loved Perelandra. But for the life of me, could not get into That Hideous Strength.

      Also, last year while in Wales, I found a first edition of Perelandra in decent condition. I think it’s worth $50-$75.

Adam,

I hated this book when I first read it. I so painfully identified with Orual. She has all this pain, and instead of lashing out in destruciton, she decides to use her pain to make her kingdom better…but the pain still remains, as her complaint to the gods shows. When she meets Westwind (the Christ figure in the book) she understands that even though she has done a lot of good in the world, she has not been able to show her true face (thus she is the Veiled Queen of Gloam). It is in meeting the gods that she understands that Love helps her reveal her true self – and that is more important than doing good works while hiding her true self.

Its one of my top 5 favorite books and I very much see it as a metaphor for how my life has been changed.

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