Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces

A Myth Retold

Book - 1966
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Publisher: New York : Time Inc., [c1966]
Branch Call Number: SCI LEWIS-C
PZ3.L58 Ti
Characteristics: xvii, 275 p. : ill. ; 21 cm

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steve_van_dine
Sep 16, 2018

Like several other commenters, I have read a lot of C.S. Lewis, both fiction and non-fiction. this is different from the rest, and I recommend it highly. It is much more adult in focus than the Chronicles of Narnia. Part of it, as might be expected, discusses several views on the relationship between deity (or deities, in this case) and the individual. During the extended first part of the book, which has a queenly, ugly older sister angry at the gods for their treatment of her younger, beautiful, and adored younger sister. Are the gods fair and caring, or are they capricious, uncaring despots. The first part of the book comes to the view that the gods are probably uncaring and cruel, or at least they are silent and have some explaining to do. At the same time the older sister/ queen reviews her own behavior and attitudes and decides that while she might have done better, there is no major fault in herself. She challenges the gods to defend themselves. The second part of the book changes course markedly, as some chance circumstances and then dreams and visions help her to review the situations recounted earlier from other viewpoints. As the queen nears death, she comes to realize that her motives were not as pure as she had thought, and her understanding of what was going on not as complete as she believed. This happens in layers. She comes to judge the gods as more fair and open than she had believed, and her own behavior less worthy.
It is the self-discovery of her own layers of behavior and motives that I find the most appealing part of the book. How many of us can look back and discover that we are self-deceived as to how we behaved and thought?
This is a good read on the surface, and it offers layers of thoughtfulness for a person who chooses to use it to reflect on his or her own life.

BetM Aug 27, 2018

Lewis's retelling of the Psyche myth, I think I first read this in college and it messed with my head a bit. The tone is much darker than his other works and doesn’t have as clear a sign of hope, either. But it is one of the best books I’ve read. And there’s a scene in the middle that is the best depiction I’ve read describing how our experience of life is limited to how we see it — that we can miss out on what life has to offer when we choose doubt over faith.

Don't let the slow pacing discourage you; if you're at all interested, the time spent with these pages is worthwhile.

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Gwen904
Jul 13, 2018

When I first started reading this, I thought to myself "this is pretty boring." After a while it got a bit more interesting—but at the same time more lonely, more heartbreaking, more tragic. At the beginning I didn't sympathize with the characters. Now when I was over halfway? I cried for them. I raged for them. And I prayed for them. I kept thinking "this just isn't fair. It has to get better. It has to." And then the confusing philosophical stuff started in Part Two, and even though I only understood half of it I was still drawn in by it. The pieces of the puzzle that had haunted Orual for so long started to fall into place. The emotions she felt, the dreams she dreamt, the hardships she suffered—it all seemed to come together in a heartbreaking finale of grief, guilt, love, jealousy, and loneliness.
I am still a little bewildered by this book, but commend Lewis for his writing prowess.

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Volfie
Mar 17, 2017

Could hardly be better, rewarding the reader's engagement while crafting a compelling new vision of a timeless story.

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guardiansgirl114
Nov 23, 2014

I loved this book! I'd never heard of the story of cupid and psyche till I had to read this book in 8th grade for literature class but I'm glad I did because it's a wonderful book! I just adore any thing by C.S.Lewis!

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Annie1318
Dec 14, 2013

This was a beautifully written story about an ugly sister who tells the story as a sort of memoir. The first 'book' expresses her anger with the gods, but the second book is her older and wiser take on the first book. I never wanted the second book to end and the ending made me feel so peaceful that I wanted to laugh and cry and everything all at once.

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Cassisa
Dec 13, 2012

A unique retelling of Cupid and Psyche story, told from the view point of Psyche's sister. A classic!

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cmposey
Apr 26, 2011

C.S. Lewis considers this his best work. It was slow starting. I kept thinking "why did he like this one so much". In the end I liked it too, I still like the Narnia series best and think they are truly his best works.

Quotes

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Gwen904
Jul 13, 2018

I ended my first book with the words 'no answer'. I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice? Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words. Long did I hate you, long did I fear you. I might—
- Page 351

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Gwen904
Jul 13, 2018

There must, whether the gods see it or not, be something great in the mortal soul. For suffering, it seems, is infinite, and our capacity without limit.
- Page 315

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Gwen904
Jul 13, 2018

"Don't you think the things people are most ashamed of are the things they can't help?" - Psyche

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Gwen904
Jul 13, 2018

No herd of beasts, gathered together, has so ugly a voice as Man.
- Page 92

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lnarizny
May 10, 2013

When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?

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ladytigressa
Jun 10, 2008

The Divine Nature wounds and perhaps destroys us merely by being what it is.

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ladytigressa
Jun 10, 2008

“No, no, no,” she said. “You don’t understand. Not that kind of longing. It was when I was happiest that I longed most. It was on happy days when we were up there on the hills, the three of us, with the wind and the sunshine… where you couldn’t see Glome or the palace. Do you remember? The colour and the smell, and looking across the Grey Mountain in the distance? And because it was so beautiful, it set me longing, always longing. Somewhere else there must be more of it. Everything seemed to be saying, Psyche, come! But I couldn’t (not yet) come and I didn’t know where I was to come to. It almost hurt me. I felt like a bird in a cage when the other birds of its kind are flying home.”

Notices

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Gwen904
Jul 13, 2018

Other: Some characters drink alcohol excessively.

g
Gwen904
Jul 13, 2018

Violence: There is some hand-to-hand combat, and medieval weapons such as swords, spears, daggers, and the like. There are a few injuries, some leading to death. Nothing is described graphically.

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Gwen904
Jul 13, 2018

Sexual Content: Princess Redival is known to be promiscuous and is called a whore. She is caught kissing a young guard and the man is made a eunuch. There is also some innuendo and a few references to sex. Nothing explicit, though.

Age

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Gwen904
Jul 13, 2018

Gwen904 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Summary

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Gwen904
Jul 13, 2018

The princess Orual is a girl known to be ugly and despised for it all her childhood. Her two younger sisters, Redival and Psyche, are very different in nature, the former being cruel, lustful, and vain and the latter being charming, polite, and gentle. But Psyche is chained on a mountain as a sacrifice to prevent the goddess Ungit from releasing her wrath on Glome. When Orual goes to collect her sister’s bones, she finds Psyche alive but wedded to an unknown god who saved her. Orual cannot see the palace nor taste the food that Psyche claims to have, and Psyche refuses to return to Glome. Orual devises a reckless plan that eventually sends Pysche into exile. Years pass, the king of Glome dies, Orual becomes queen, and the years pass even more. She brings success to Glome and her power grows—just as her despair, guilt, and grief grow. When she is old Orual receives a series of visions of Psyche, the gods, her father, her friend the Fox, and more. And finally, Orual sees the truth.

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