Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Till We Have Faces

In this timeless tale of two mortal princesses- one beautiful and one unattractive- C.S. Lewis reworks the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche into an enduring piece of contemporary fiction. This is the story of Orual, Psyche’s embittered and ugly older sister, who posessively and harmfully loves Psyche. Much to Orual’s frustration, Psyche is loved by Cupid, the god of love
Sørina

Jul 22, 2007

rated it
it was amazing

Recommends it for:
everyone!
Shelves:
inklings,
re-read

List of beauties:

– The epigraph: “Love is too young to know what conscience is.” The first line of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 151; Lewis makes the quotation speak of Orual’s sub-moral love, Psyche’s super-moral love, and the god’s supra-mortal love.
– Dedication: “To Joy Davidman.” TWHF was published in 1956, when Lewis was married to Joy. He says somewhere that she was so involved in his mental processes during the creation of this book “as to be almost a co-author.”
– The first sentence: “I am old no

– The epigraph: “Love is too young to know what conscience is.” The first line of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 151; Lewis makes the quotation speak of Orual’s sub-moral love, Psyche’s super-moral love, and the god’s supra-mortal love.
– Dedication: “To Joy Davidman.” TWHF was published in 1956, when Lewis was married to Joy. He says somewhere that she was so involved in his mental processes during the creation of this book “as to be almost a co-author.”
– The first sentence: “I am old now and have not much to fear from the anger of gods.” It sets the tone for the entire first section of the novel; it paints a vague historical and geographical context by the mere word “gods”; it encapsulates the character’s past and present, age and attitude, faith and heresy.
– The psychological honesty about the human sense of injustice by the gods. Who has not been tempted to say to God, “It’s not fair”?
– The fairy-tale feeling (The Stepmother, a nurse, a tutor, a dark god in a darker house, an agricultural society) infused with emotional realism, peopled by complex, timeless, modern characters.
– The Fox. Wise, stoic, affectionate, stolid, tender, clever, witty, loveable, loving, a seeker of knowledge, a story-teller, a muddled mixture of the practical and the fantastical.
– The intuitive, experiential understanding of the truth that The Law Kills. The smell of “the horror of holiness” hanging around the Priest of Ungit, human sacrifice, temple prostitution, ritual superstition, the essence of a pre-Christian religion.
– Psyche herself. True beauty. As a newborn, “she made bright all the corner of the room in which she lay. Always laughing, making all others laugh, merry, truthful, obedient, virtuous, spirited, compassionate, selfless. In her was the Form of the Beautiful, “what every woman… ought to have been and meant to be.” The Fox calls her Helen (one of Lewis’s great symbols, and Joy Davidman’s other name).
– The subtlety of the horrors that shattered Orual’s youthful happiness. No obvious catastrophes; then, finally, the worst blow paganism can give: sacrifice the most pure, the most beautiful, to The Brute.
– The unanswerable nature of pre-Christian language, that apes our own diction so closely, yet with such twistings. In holy language, loving and devouring are the same; the Bride is the Brute’s Supper; in a mystery, Ungit and her son are one. Parodies of the Trinity, of the Eucharist, of a believer’s death and resurrection in baptism.
– The psychological perfection of the scene in Psyche’s prison-room on the night before the sacrifice. Orual accuses Psyche of a heart of iron—because it is strong and unbendable in torment. Orual has lost her, and grudges her this joy.
– This Joy. “When I was happiest I longed most,” says Istra, for death. For whatever was beyond the Grey Mountain. It was so intense “it almost hurt me.” “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing—to reach the Mountain—“ or the island, or the blue flower, or the Great Beyond. “The longing for home.”
– Then, the perfection of the moment when each realizes the other’s ignorance of an entire world. When Psyche realizes Orual cannot see her palace; when Orual realizes Psyche sees it right there in the fields and forest. And then the rain, the terrible rain that falls on Psyche and she feels it not, and Orual tries to cover and comfort her and cannot. They are divided by the gods.
– The gods. The West-Wind, a young, rough god. The god who comes to Psyche in the night, who looks upon Orual with “passionless and measureless rejection.”

And the ending is the most Sublime piece of writing I have encountered: “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?” That is a perfect summary of Christian theology; all you need to know to be saved, yet couched in mythology.
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Jeremy

Aug 26, 2007

rated it
really liked it

One of the lesser known of Lewis’ fiction works, this is a masterful retelling of the mythological story of Cupid and Psyche that paints a vivid picture of how selfish humanly love is, and to what extent we will go to protect it. The narrative serves to humble the reader as the heroine of the novel transforms from the pitiable victim to the chief antagonist, and at the same time we realize that we are her, always pondering on the wrongs done to us and the shortcomings we experience. It’s an exce

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