Classics Without All the Class discussion

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May 2015- Till We Have Faces > Book 1, Chapter 6

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message 1: by Jim (last edited May 04, 2015 10:47AM) (new)

Jim (jborland) May 2015 book discussion --> Till We Have Faces

Chapter 6 is a short chapter that chiefly relates events in the palace the day before the sacrifice is to be offered to the god of the Mountain. When criticized by the Fox for not saving Psyche, the King claims to be putting the kingdom's good before his own family. King Trom states, "It's only sense that one should die for many."

Does this make Psyche a Christ figure? I don't think so, but we need to know something about the author.

C.S. Lewis, who died on November 22, 1963 (same day Kennedy was assassinated), was a scholar of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford University, and was friends with J. R. R. Tolkien. As a child he read voraciously on endless topics and lived in a world of fantasy. It's amazing to see how one man could excel in sophisticated intellectual circles and at the same time be a writer of children's literature. As an adult he set out to use his powers of reason to prove that Christianity was false but instead became a Christian. He then devoted much of his life to writing and arguing that Christianity has an intellectual fabric.

Our book was published in 1956 and was one of the last to come from his pen. Unlike his work "Chronicles of Narnia," where Aslan is clearly a Christ figure who died for the sins of another, then rose from the dead, I don't see that picture in our book. Lewis believed it was fully rational to be responsive to the enchanting power of stories, and I think that's all he is doing in our book. Just retelling an ancient myth while dropping occasional hints about his spiritual beliefs.

Example: Bardia, the faithful captain of the guard whose heart is breaking over the sacrifice of Psyche, utters the phrase: "I wonder do the gods know what it feels like to be a man."


message 2: by John (new)

John I can see how Psyche could be considered a Christ figure. But I don't think that fits. Psyche showed a lot of pride while she went out and "healed" the sick. She seemed to enjoy the adulation. She didn't show humility, at least at that point. So far, this book doesn't seem to push a Christian agenda. At least it doesn't on the surface. I may change my mind as I get further into it. I appreciate your efforts leading this discussion. Thanks.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) Thanks for the thanks. I don't believe this book pushes the Christian agenda and we see even less of these subtleties as the story progresses.


message 4: by Lizbeth (new)

Lizbeth | 23 comments Learning a little of Lewis's timeline and when he wrote his books is really helpful. If he wrote this after marrying and losing his wife, Joy, to cancer, he might feel more tenderly toward all of his characters than did the bachelor Oxford apologist.

When I read that line spoken by Bardia at the end of this discussion, I felt a pang. I imagined Lewis perhaps having to stand outside of Joy's hospital room, while trying to accept what was happening to her inside, and wondering how he should act or not, or what to believe.


message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) Here is the timeline to the best of my knowledge. Our book was published in 1956, as was the last book (#7) in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Lewis and Joy were married at the hospital in March 1957, where she was being treated for bone cancer (note to readers -- our book is dedicated "to Joy Davidman"). Lewis was 58 years old at that time and had never been married before. Joy had a short remission from the cancer but died in 1960. Lewis died in 1963.


message 6: by Lizbeth (new)

Lizbeth | 23 comments Thanks, Jim for that follow-up! My imagination made some incorrect leaps, there. :-)


message 7: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 208 comments I think he actually had started this book much earlier, but finished it late in his life, from other reading I've done. My understanding was that he'd started it while still an atheist and intended it to show all of the "evils" of God, but after his conversion, changed his understanding of the nature of God, thus changing his perspective on the outcome of the Cupid/Psyche story. I for the life of me can't recall where I got that information though, so please don't quote me on that.


message 8: by Lizbeth (new)

Lizbeth | 23 comments Wow, thanks Alana. Understanding that there were different time periods that he worked on this book might account for how I've been feeling as I read it. It seems so unlike his other works in tone. It's almost as if he's having a conversation with his various selves, which is really a privilege to be able to listen to.


message 9: by AndPeggy (new)

AndPeggy | 1 comments I understand that part of his belief reflected in this book is that even love can be toxic when not filtered through Christ. As a result, the queen loves in a way that has destructive and selfish consequences, even if that love is genuine. These consequences become more evident as the story goes on.


message 10: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 208 comments Well said, Denise!


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