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Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  33,976 Ratings  ·  2,739 Reviews
"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. Disfigu
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ebook, 324 pages
Published July 9th 1980 by Mariner Books (first published 1956)
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Chloe
Mar 10, 2008 Chloe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Chloe by: a booklist
Ironically, though Lewis considered this to be his best work, it is not very well known. Even among those who label themselves as Lewis fans, the work is not often read. Few people even know that it exists. Among the few, I would guess that there are a significant number feigning ignorance so as not to delve into the pages. Perhaps it is because the book is so often seen as a philosophical/theological work, something scholarly and dense and difficult to read. The somewhat colorless covers that t ...more
Sørina
Jan 01, 2012 Sørina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
Shelves: inklings
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
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Jeremy
Aug 26, 2007 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 17, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Tina Matanguihan
Shelves: retelling, mythology
Psychologists have long known that every person has two great longings and inward needs. The first is to be loved, and the second is to love. But when pressures and heartaches come into our lives, many give up any hope of ever finding love.

For me, the above statements summarize the message that C. S. Lewis wanted to impart in his most mature and his-favorite-among-all-of-his-works novel, Till We Have Faces. Ugly Orual loves her beautiful youngest sister Psyche that she acts as her mother and a p
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Emily
Feb 23, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for any Lewis fan. He began the book as an unbeliever (a case against God) and finished it some 30 years later fully converted. Almost autobiographical, you get a real sense of his own spiritual awakening. It is claimed to be his personal favorite. The name comes from the scripture: "Now we see through a glass, darkly: but then face to face..shall I know even as also I am known."

Better than anything I've read, it describes the process of developing faith and finding and becoming li
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Kristina
Nov 11, 2007 Kristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strangely wonderful. Totally absorbing. Quite possibly my favorite C.S. Lewis novel ever.

Some quotes that made me pause:

"The gods never send us this invitation to delight so readily or so strongly as when they are preparing some new agony. We are their bubbles; they blow us big before they prick us." pg.97

"Don't you think a dream would feel shy if it were seen walking about in the waking world?" pg. 114

"Yet it surprised me that he should have said it; for I did not yet know that if you are ugly
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Mary Victoria
May 30, 2010 Mary Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a rather ambivalent relationship with author C.S. Lewis prior to reading this book. On the one hand, I loved the breadth and energy of his imagination, respected his scholarship and appreciated the way he was able to entertain children – he did have the knack for writing a page-turner. On the other I balked at the far-too-blatant theological overtones in his stories, the rampant racism and abhorrence of women – to wit, the attitudes of a 1950’s Oxbridge scholar firmly entrenched in his era ...more
Sally Linford
Sep 30, 2009 Sally Linford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Truth seekers
Recommended to Sally by: Emily Funk
One of the finest pieces I have ever read.

Emily sent me this funny note:
"Your silence is deafening. You didn't like the book? Were you afraid you would hurt my feelings. You might not have enjoyed it as much as I did because you are like Psyche and I like the other one...can't remember her name."

10/08/2008 01:16AM My reply to Emily:

Haha! NOT!

I haven't commented yet, because I haven't had time to do justice to this masterpiece. I have to say, when it ended, I stared at the wall for a while say
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Dave
Apr 20, 2008 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians or skeptics, especially those who think the world should be totally knowable.
We want God to be just. By “just” we mean that we desire that God rule in our favor. But we don’t think enough what might result should God heed the council of our minds and hearts. Would we have God make us what we wish to be, or make us what God knows we are meant to be? And what of others? How would even our loved ones fair if God treated them as we thought God should? So many want their redress from God and yet curse God for the outcome.

Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis is about accusing God
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Galen
Sep 17, 2008 Galen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are few modern novels that have made me look at the face in the mirror as deeply as has Lewis's Till We Have Faces. As Orual tells her story the book plumbs the uttermost depths of her character and motivation, revealing that she herself is responsible for much of her own hurt. The story's remarkable final chapters bring her an unexpected and spiritually transforming redemption.

A number of times, when I myself have felt bitterness and hurt, I've found that reading or even recalling this st
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Carl
Jan 14, 2008 Carl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in fantasy, myth, or fictional explorations of humanity's relationship to God
It's been years since I've read this, so I can't say much, but it is one of my favorites. A novel length treatment of the Cupid and Psyche myth, and to my mind reminiscent of Ursula LeGuin's Tombs of Atuan, though Lewis' novel predates hers (I don't actually know why it reminds me-- the religious setting, I guess, though this book isn't so much about escape from evil powers as about recognizing the evil in oneself). Continues Lewis' apologetics in fictional form, which I think I prefer (as long ...more
AnnaMarie
Mar 06, 2008 AnnaMarie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2007 I just read this book for the second time, and I loved it more this time than the first. I also got a lot more out of it the second time around. It is such a beautiful story. From this we see how being ugly within sucks life from those around us, that faith is difficult but worthwhile, that our lives are defined by our connection with others, and that sacrifice is purifying and beautifying. And I believe Orual's last line would have been, "I might - have loved him."
Madelyn
Apr 10, 2016 Madelyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book so so much. I won't go into descriptions or why I'm fawning over it , because the countless reviews of it have already summed up most of that(: I'd just like to point out a few things I haven't seen in other reviews:

-First off! For a younger reader, I would NOT recommend this book. The 'god/goddess ' aspects could be confusing to someone that's just coming to truly understand Christianity, and being impressionable, I wouldn't want this to harm them. As well as some mentions
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Richard Derus
Oct 08, 2011 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read "The Chronicles of Narnia" when a child, which I believe was a statutory requirement for American children born between 1958 and 1970. I went on to read Lewis's Martian books, eg "Perelandra", and suddenly *smack* the Jesus factor hit me and I lost my taste for Lewis. No chance of that here, since this is a retelling of the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche.

Aphrodite, for reasons of her own, gets wildly jealous of a mortal beauty, and demands of her local enforcer/priest that he sacrific
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Heather
May 09, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
One of my favorite books of all times. It changed me.

I don't know exactly what to say about it that would be informative. It is Mr. Lewis' spin on the tale of Psyche and Cupid. However, it is so much more. It touches topics like paganism, jealousy, love, bias, etc.

But, more than anything, the part of this book that sticks with me continually is Orual's plea to the gods. The deep philosophical points of this scene (and the storyline of her journey to this point) are so profound.

This work, like C
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Tina
Mar 26, 2011 Tina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Original post at One More Page

One of my favorite (and probably the most popular) Bible verses other than John 3:16 and the multitude of verses that I've highlighted in my Bible is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I'm pretty sure you've read these verses at one point in your life, too:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil bu
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Nikki
Till We Have Faces is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. I read it as such, and not as a theological text, though there's elements of that there if that's how you choose to approach it. I chose to approach it as a story, though, as a myth retelling -- and I suspect it's perfectly possible to do both at once.

It's a beautifully told story, and one that feels real, psychologically and in terms of feeling like a real place, with real people. The basic details of the original story are that
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Kathryn
Breath-taking! Poetic, beautiful, heart-full. Exquisite insights for all of us who wish to love in the best way we can.

(And I liked the style ever-so-much better than "Narnia." Glad I can now appreciate Lewis more!)
Clare Cannon
Feb 14, 2012 Clare Cannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adults
I had no idea what to expect - rather ignorant on my part - but sometimes I'm familiar with titles without having a clue what they are about. This one surprised me, and didn't come together for me until the very end, at which point of course it suddenly makes profound, perfect sense. It is the retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche (which Lewis recounts for reference at the very end), rather changed for the better I thought. It made me see how a devout pagan from ancient times could have poss ...more
Charissa Sophia de la Rosa
Sometimes in our life, we can’t stop to ponder “Why did this happen to me?” or “Why God doesn’t answer my prayers?” or perhaps “God doesn’t love me for He let such a terrible thing to happen.”

Sometimes, we can’t help but to question God, wonder if He truly does exist and if He does, why did He turn His back from us? We think we have rotten luck for such things to happen and will already come to the conclusion that God wasn’t there.

We’re wrong.


Plot Summary:

Orual was one of the two daughters
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junia
Jul 14, 2008 junia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to junia by: DChoe
Shelves: yummy, wishlist, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James
Mar 23, 2014 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
When Louise decided to relaunch the work book club she didn't think we needed any soft starts. Instead she started us out with this little known C.S. Lewis novel. Originally called Bareface – a title that Lewis still stubbornly uses in his afterword – Till We Have Faces is his recasting of the story of Cupid and Psyche. 'Correcting' some of the inconsistencies he saw in the original tale, he told his version from the perspective of Psyche's sister Orual.

Psyche and Orual are two of the daughters
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Brian Robbins
Nov 28, 2014 Brian Robbins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inklings
I first read this when I took a group of school kids camping. Having only half an hour to read each night (after midnight at that) when I’d rolled into my sleeping bag, or some snatched minutes sat on the coach as we took them to various places in North Yorkshire, these were definitely not the ideal conditions in which to absorb and enjoy this story. My memories of it were very hazy & imperfect.

“Till We Have Faces “ is considered by many to be the best piece of fiction written by Lewis. That
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Robin Tell-Drake
Mar 26, 2009 Robin Tell-Drake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I’ve read all the Narnia books many times, but this is the first time I’ve managed to read any other Lewis book. It kind of shook me, honestly, from the beginning. I had never realized how much he was talking down to his young audience in Narnia, but this was a different animal entirely; here he is lush and symbolically bold in a way that folksy old series never attempted. This Lewis is masterful and assured. I had no idea he was capable of such lyricism.

It is, inevitably, a Christian book and C
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Demetrius Rogers
Nov 27, 2015 Demetrius Rogers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Okay, it's settled - Favorite novel of all time.

Read this back in 2012, and again this year. Absolutely amazing. This is what you call literature. Not only is it artistically written, but the story line carries the reader along like a swift current. Not only is there lots of psychology going on here, but there's also pathos. Lots of it. This thing is dripping with human emotion, but it's also highly intelligent. I love the imaginative quality of the Chronicles of Narnia, but this reads much dif
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Chris
C. S. Lewis' Narina books are known as heavy allegory, at least the later ones.

This book too, is an allegory, and an intersting one. While in a few times, the book becomes heavy, overall it isn't.

There are some quibbles with the novel. Why is beauty always good, for instance. Yet, because of the book feels like an honest examnation of faith; this seems to make up for it. In some ways, this a better plea about faith than the Narina books. It is more serious than the Narina books and somehow, more
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Sylvain Reynard
Sep 22, 2011 Sylvain Reynard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is CS Lewis' re-telling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. While Apuleius' original treatment is worth reading, this story is something different. It's about the difference between beauty and ugliness - not a beauty of the body, although that is mentioned, but a beauty of the soul. It's also an exposition of the nature of jealousy and self-deception. Once again, one can learn a great deal about human nature by reading literature. There are many lessons in this myth. Highly recommended.
Douglas Wilson
Jan 25, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Stupendous. World class. Top drawer.
Garrett
Mar 13, 2015 Garrett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is arguably C.S. Lewis's most underrated work.

Ever since I read Edith Hamilton's book Mythology in high school, I had always wondered what the Greek myths would have been like to the people who experienced them in first person. C.S. Lewis does this incredibly well. He not only immerses you into the ancient world of Glome, but he also fleshes out the characters into unforgettable personalities: Orual, Psyche, the Fox, all become powerful characters that together create a compelling story.

I
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Jacob Aitken
*Love corrected; mythology redeemed*



Lewis is retelling the Cupid/Psyche myth. Brief overview of the plot: Three daughters. Oldest one is ugly; middle one is pretty, but vapid. Youngest daughter is beautiful both in body and spirit. Takes place in pre-Christian Glome (a city somewhere close to Greece). Youngest daughter is sacrificed to the gods. She actually lives in a paradise. Oldest daughter doesn't believe; Tests her. Both fail test. Psyche is banished. Oldest daughter must learn what love i
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How do you pronounce "Orual"? 6 26 Dec 07, 2015 11:24PM  
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Into the Forest: Till We Have Faces - Spoiler Discussion 39 54 Jul 04, 2014 10:19PM  
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CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than th ...more
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