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Till We Have Faces

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  29,827 ratings  ·  2,456 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 2nd 1998 by Fount (first published 1956)
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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
Jan 01, 2012 Sørina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 17, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Tina Matanguihan
Shelves: mythology, retelling
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
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
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
Sally Linford
Sep 30, 2009 Sally Linford rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Apr 20, 2008 Dave rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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."
Mary Victoria
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
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
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
Jan 14, 2008 Carl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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!)
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
Brian Robbins
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
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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
Jul 14, 2008 junia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to junia by: DChoe
Shelves: wishlist, yummy, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Robin Tell
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
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
Sylvain Reynard
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.
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
Clare Cannon
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
Jun 18, 2010 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Judy by: My dad

It is possible that this book made me a feminist. I realize what a weird thing that is to say, considering that the author is male and a Christian writer; also considering that the story is a retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. But it was a favorite book of mine as a teenager and I read it over and over during my high school years. It never failed to give me an emotional beating.

Orual, the heroine, is the ugly older sister of Psyche, whom she loves deeply. When bad things happen to
Nov 09, 2011 Cami rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rachel, those who love Greek myth and/or a well-spun tale or strong women characters.
I am updating this to remind all my friends on GoodReads who have this amazing book languishing on their to-read shelves that it's time to pick this up and read it!

I love what this book teaches about love and governing those we love. I love the hard lessons the main character, Orual, has to learn and how it all comes back to love. This is a beautiful book. It is a moving book.
At the core, it is a retelling of the Greek myth, Eros and Psyche (a similar tale to Beauty and the Beast). Psyche is swe
"I was with book, as a woman is with child."
So says Orual, the "writer" and protagonist of this story.

To rate this book with five stars is simply not enough. This work is a MASTERPIECE. By far one of the best books I have ever read. This is Lewis at his very finest (indeed, he thought it his most "mature" work and it was his personal favorite, or so they say).

One should be, before reading this book, thoroughly familiar with the myth of Cupid and Psyche (which I was) as, contrary to what most syn
May 13, 2007 Evie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Psychotherapists and anyone interested in psychotherapy
Shelves: psychology
On a flight back to Buenos Aires from Bariloche, the person next to me, an Argentine priest who spent time in the States, recommended this book to me to read for my dissertation on the soul/psyche. I didn't read it right away, but it ended up helping me write a big chunk of my dissertation. Don't you love when that happens? I sure wish I got his name and e-mail to thank him.

This is C.S. Lewis' retelling of the Eros and Psyche myth. It gives it a different spin, a little more modern perspective
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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
More about C.S. Lewis...
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1) The Chronicles of Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia, #1-7) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3) The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #6) Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia, #2)

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“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.” 506 likes
“I was with book, as a woman is with child.” 366 likes
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