This is a book whose measure cannot be taken by reading anything less than the totality, every last word, even Lewis' note at the end. Because it is aThis is a book whose measure cannot be taken by reading anything less than the totality, every last word, even Lewis' note at the end. Because it is a fine book at first; witty and unusual and passionate. Near the middle it is vaulting and mature and rich and wise. But in the end -- in almost the end it is a dozen allegories and twice as many sermons and fear and hope and love -- and in the very end it is sweet and true and utterly destroying of every preconception. And then, once again, one's preconceptions are wiped away and laid bare. And all that's left is a great, thundering respect and love.
It is easy to doubt classicism, and theology, and the use of human suffering and the truth of human love. But until you have swept right through all of it and suffered every indignity and false passion and certainty and despair that Orual has suffered -- and Psyche too, as herself and through Orual's visions of her -- until that, you cannot judge for yourself. You must reserve your own suspicion, that the gods have no answer; you must write yourself out as Orual writes too.
And at the end it is a retelling for us all, for the Christians and the pagans and the doubters and the faithful; for the myth-lovers and those new to myths; for the writers and those who would not write; for those who have loved greatly and deeply and for those who have not yet loved.
And again at the end, for me, I will quote what is only (in theme) the end of the middle, or the beginning of the end, and how true this is for me. "To leave [the book] as it was would be to die perjured; I know so much more than I did about the woman who wrote it. What began the change was the very writing itself. Let no one lightly set about such a work. Memory, once waked, will play the tyrant... The change which writing brought in me (and of which I did not write) was only a beginning -- only to prepare me for the gods' surgery. They used my own pen to probe my wound."...more