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Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold [Paperback]

By C. S. Lewis (Author)
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Item description for Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C. S. Lewis...

This reinterpretation of the tale of Cupid and Psyche, combines elements of barbarism and fantasy with an understanding of human nature and psychology

Publishers Description
""I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer . . . Why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?""
Haunted by the myth of Cupid and Psyche throughout his life, C.S. Lewis wrote this, his last, extraordinary novel, to retell their story through the gaze of Psyche's sister, Orual. Disfigured and embittered, Orual loves her younger sister to a fault and suffers deeply when she is sent away to Cupid, the God of the Mountain. Psyche is forbidden to look upon the god's face, but is persuaded by her sister to do so; she is banished for her betrayal. Orual is left alone to grow in power but never in love, to wonder at the silence of the gods. Only at the end of her life, in visions of her lost beloved sister, will she hear an answer.
""Till We Have Faces" succeeds in presenting with imaginative directness what its author has described elsewhere as 'the divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic reality in which we all live' . . . It] deepens for adults that sense of wonder and strange truth which delights children in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "Prince Caspian," and other legends of Narnia." --"New York Times"
"The most significant and triumphant work that Lewis has . . . produced." --"New York Herald Tribune"

Community Description
The unlovely Orual, eldest daughter of the King of Glome, becomes so consumed by her mingled love for and jealousy of her beautiful half-sister that she makes a complaint to the gods---and receives an answer she did not expect. This novel, possibly Lewis' best work and his personal favorite, is the compelling reworking of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. 313 pages, softcover from Harcourt.

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Citations And Professional Reviews
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C. S. Lewis has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Christianity Today - 07/01/2008 page 55

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Harcourt Brace & Company
Pages   324
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8" Width: 5.2" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 9, 1993
Publisher   Harcourt Brace
Age  14
ISBN  0156904365  
ISBN13  9780156904360  

Availability  174 units.
Availability accurate as of Jan 23, 2017 06:02.
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More About C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis C.S. Lewis was a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities who wrote more than thirty books in his lifetime, including The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Mere Christianity. He died in 1963.

C. S. Lewis was born in 1898 and died in 1963.

C. S. Lewis has published or released items in the following series...
  1. C.S. Lewis Signature Classics
  2. Canto
  3. Canto Classics
  4. Chronicles of Narnia
  5. Chronicles of Narnia (HarperCollins Hardcover)
  6. Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis
  7. Cosimo Classics Literature
  8. Harvest Book
  9. Harvest Book
  10. HBJ Modern Classic
  11. Literature Units
  12. Radio Theatre
  13. Scribner Classics
  14. Shepherd's Notes
  15. Space Trilogy (Paperback)

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Children > Religions > Fiction > Fiction
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( L ) > Lewis, C.S.
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Action & Adventure
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > Mythology > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Fiction > General Christian > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Till We Have Faces?

Masterly retelling of the legend of Psyche  Mar 23, 2007

C.S. Lewis was of course the author of the "Narnia" children's stories, the moral comedy "The Screwtape letters" and a number of other novels and books about religion, most of them told from a more or less openly Christian perspective.

This brilliant retelling of the legend of Psyche and Cupid is unusual for C.S. Lewis in that it considers the relationship between human and divine while stepping outside his Christian perspective. It is also possibly his best novel.

The story reads as a memoir written in her old age by Queen Orual of Glome, who had been eldest of the three daughters of the previous King. Orual herself is wise but ugly, and loves her beautiful younger sister Psyche in a way which is genuine but fierce and also jealous.

During a famine, The priests advise the King that there is a curse on the land and to lift it he must leave his daughter Psyche chained in the wilderness as a sacrifice to the gods. Orual is frantic and offers herself as the sacrifice instead but neither the King nor the priests will hear of it. Psyche is left chained in the wilderness, and when she is not there the following morning everyone assumes she has been killed. Instead, however, Cupid the God of Love takes her as his wife, refusing to let her see his face.

In the original legend, Psyche is allowed to receive a visit from her two sisters, who are consumed with envy at the sight of the luxurious home which the God has given Psyche, and trick her into shining a light on her husband while he sleeps. Furious at this disobedience, the god condemns her to wander the earth in great misery.

This version is similar, but with two key differences: the first is that Orual cannot see the beautiful house which Psyche believes she is living in. To Orual's senses Psyche is living in the open air and dressed in rags. Orual's motives in persuading Psyche to shine the lamp on her sleeping husband are far more complex and less unequivocally evil.

The second difference is that, where in the original legend the Gods cause the malicious sisters of Psyche to die soon after their betrayal of their sister, in Lewis's version Orual survives her father and becomes Queen. Indeed, Orual's struggle to rescue her country from the mess in which her father left it provides some of the most powerful scenes in the book. (I'm not giving away anything here: the narrator introduces herself in the first pages of the book as Queen of Glome and makes quite clear that she is describing the events of her youth from the perspective of old age.)

When she starts the narrative, Queen Orual is writing it as a complaint against the Gods who have mistreated her and slandered her. By the end of the book Orual's perspective has changed.

This is a magnificent and deeply moving story. If you like the Narnia books, think of it as Narnia for grown-ups.
C.S. Lewis's Best Fiction  Mar 10, 2007
Vivid, rich, and earthy, Till We Have Faces is Lewis's fictional writing at its best. The characters stand out, and will stick in your mind, with Lewis's keen description of their passion and pain. If only more myths were retold and remade this well.

However, for all of its strengths Till We Have Faces suffers from the common weakness of Lewis . . . his tendency to be preachy, and to damage his story by being heavy handed with the point he wants to make. The story would have been more startling, thought provoking, and well written if Lewis had ended the tale after the first part. Nonetheless, the central strengths of this story bears it up and in the end it remains a well worthwhile read.
A book for all ages  Feb 23, 2007
I first read this book when I was in my early teens, and I just reread it for the fourth time, now that I'm in my early fifties. It still has the power to move me, to engage my mind, to make me stop and think about myself. I was choking back a sob as I read the last words.

I think it is C.S. Lewis's fiction that gets his messages across (although his non-fiction is incredible as well). Not to sound trite, but this has always been one of my favorite books. I could analyze/compare/critique, but that has all been done. All I can say is, give it a chance.
A book like no other  Nov 21, 2006
This is for me C.S.Lewis's greatest work. But I've known others who have read it and found little to appreciate in it. If you can relate to the psychology of the characters in this book, and to the religious context in which the tale is set, it will be a book read many times. If you can not, it will be at best no more than a charming but rather obscure tale set in a distant land.

It is a book that tells a tale completely divorced from the self, while being (if it captures one) intimately about the self. It sets rhyme against reason; love against hate; beauty against ugliness; the Gods against humanity; doubt against conviction; the priesthood against the state; the profound against the profain; dark superstition and blood sacrifice against the devine and sacred; what is real against what is illusionary; and culminates with exploring the issue of how life itself can through all of these conflicts be discovered to be not what it always seemed while lived.

It is ultimately a character study in how we may each live a lifetime oblivious to who we really were; how we can blame anything but ourselves for all our own perceived misfortunes; and only discover at our end that nothing was quite what it till then seemed. It is in that moment when we find our faces (see ourselves as we really were) that we know both the damnation of all that we have till then been and the salvation of finding all our accusations against the Gods finally answered.

The book sugar coats these (and many other) deep philosophical and spiritual issues in a story that is fast paced, gripping, absorbing, and once read ever remembered as a haunting tale about a quaint land and time not ones own brought to life through C.S.Lewis's wonderful skill at painting memorable pictures with words. This is a tale that stretches from the cradle to the grave, and then if one believes such things beyond.

Personally I take huge exception to the number of Christians here who claim that this is somehow a "Christian" tale, in some sort of attempt to claim this book as their own. It is nothing of the sort. Indeed my personal experience has been that Christians tend not to like this book, because it is set in a religious context more druid than christian, and deliberately so for I think that C.S.Lewis wanted to throw away the trappings of his own religion the better to explore the nature of religion itself.

The tale is of a greek myth retold in an even more pagan setting, set in an ancient time, perhaps 200 or 300 BC. It is a philosophical and intellectual exploration of that pagan myth, and as such this book would be as accessible to a muslim, an atheist, a buddist and/or and a jew. This story is not one intended to teach the reader what to believe but rather one designed to speak to the whole issue of belief itself, and to challenge ones own beliefs in subtle and not so subtle ways no matter what they are.
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold  Nov 3, 2006
Excellent service and the book was just as promised.

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