Till We Have Faces: A Novel of Cupid and Psyche

Till We Have Faces: A Novel of Cupid and Psyche

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Till We Have Faces: A Novel of Cupid and Psyche by C. S. Lewis, Fritz Eichenberg

“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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156904360
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 07/28/1980
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 668,520
Product dimensions: 5.46(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 860L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

C. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis (1898-1963), one of the great writers of the twentieth century, also continues to be one of our most influential Christian thinkers. A Fellow and tutor at Oxford until 1954, he spent the rest of his career as Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge. He wrote more than thirty books, both popular and scholarly, inlcuding The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves, Mere Christianity and Surprised by Joy.

Date of Birth:

November 29, 1898

Date of Death:

November 22, 1963

Place of Birth:

Belfast, Nothern Ireland

Place of Death:

Headington, England


Oxford University 1917-1923; Elected fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford in 1925

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Till We Have Faces 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 104 reviews.
Katherine Lehtola More than 1 year ago
Don't waste your money - purchase a print copy or meticulously edited ereader version. This is a very poor quality Nook version. The sheer number of mistakes/typos make this a slog-through copy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Till We Have Faces' is a book I have read 5 times and have gleaned something new from it it every time. I am 17, and I first read it at 13. Every time I read it, I am humbled, because it is a mirror to show me my own selfishness and my self-love. This book demonstrates how we must die to ourselves before we can truly live--'If I'm really gonna live I gotta die to myself someday' (U2--Surrender). And the line at the end breaks me every time: 'I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer--before your face all questions die away. What other answer would suffice? Only words, words...' An amazing, and beautifully written work. Extremely poetic and elegant, yet humble and edifying in every way. A tapestry of everything beautiful. Highly recommended!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once more, C.S. Lewis surprises his readers with his choice of vibrant characters and compelling themes. A spin-off of the Greek myth, the focus centers on the authentic motives and intentions of its main players. The reader will go so far as to question the gods themselves. This story will leave a powerful impression, requiring readers to look deeply within themselves. How often do we confuse love with dependency, or the ability to care with the tendency to control? Lewis 'seperates the seeds' of the human heart, and invites others to do likewise. 'Till we Have Faces' is an absolutely beautiful adaptation of a story long forgotten (except on Valentine's Day--Cupid's included!)
Guest More than 1 year ago
C.S. Lewis never fails to amaze me. In "Till We Have Faces", his ability to write from a woman's perspective is absolutely incredible. I have read this book many times and never fail to find new depths. Once you finish, you want to start all over again...definitely one of the greatest stories out there.
Rachett More than 1 year ago
Other reviews for this book at Barnes&Noble stated that this book was a hard read, but I did not feel that was so. The ending was a little hard to slug through because it started to get a little dry, maybe that is what the other reviewers meant? At any rate, a wonderful retelling of the Psyche myth; I have never seen the events told from the point of view of one of the sisters before. The only thing that disappointed me -and that was only a very little- was the lack of romance which I have come to associate with the story of Eros and Psyche. However, as this is told from the perspective of the eldest sister, who believes her sister has gone mad, the lack of romance is fitting. The psychology of the characterrs as they struggle with the opposing forces of faith and science are artfully and realistically depicted.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although a skeptic of the plot at first, my ability to put this book down decreased as the tale unfolded. 'Till We Have Faces' is a spin-off of the classic Greek myth containing Cupid and Psyche. Retelling a traditional myth by adding depth to the plot and character interaction created one fantastic read! It jumped straight to the top of my favorite book list as soon as I finished the last page. C.S. Lewis sure hit something with this book! So, if you are looking for a myth, but want something with a much more energetic and developed plot, this should be your next purchase.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a very good book. It was a little difficult to understand in the beginning, but after the first chapter I was able to comprehend this interesting story about the classic myth of Cupid and Psyche. I have not read many of C.S. Lewis's works, but this is by far my favorite. This book is full of passages that caused me to stop and think about what is happening, something I do not usually do while reading. I would reccomend this book to people who enjoy mythology or fiction, or who like a challenge.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am sixteen years old, and I have read this novel numerous times. Every time I find a new lesson and hidden theme. This is a book that entices the senses with its beautiful diction. It combines fantasy with realism, C.S. Lewis truly was a brilliant philospher and writer. I have read most all of his works of art (if you will), and have found that this particular masterpiece has stimulated me to grow as an abstract thinker. I aclaim this book with the highest regard.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book had me so captivated from the very first word. I read the entire story within three hours and then read the book again later that week because it was so amazing and magical. It is by far the best book I have ever read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up knowing nothing about it, but I loved C.S. Lewis. I was unable to put it down, it left me enchanted for many days after reading it and really changed my life in many ways. I say you must read it! Lewis is able to make us see in his stories those things which belong to another world, as if a veil is lifted from our eyes and we are able to see for the first time. After you finish reading it you'll want to re-read it again right away. This book shows us ourselves in a true light. For me it was a return to a wonder of life and beauty, what Lewis describes as moments of joy. I cannot say enough about this book... it was Lewis' favorite too. I'd suggest reading Surprised by Joy or Mere Christianity first.
vernazzablue on LibraryThing 2 days ago
This is Lewis at his best. The literary quality to his prose exceeds his other fiction. The space trilogy takes on issues, but always a bit at arms length. The first person telling of this tale draws us in. We can feel Orual's bitterness, the wound in her soul. We are drawn in to her complaint against the gods. We want to see her vindicated. And so when her journey ends, I feel as if I have been challenged in my own being as I see how I have my own litany of complaints against God. This is piercing stuff.
kmass on LibraryThing 2 days ago
By far C.S. Lewis's finest, most mature work of fiction. The way he uses Greek mythology to communicate Christian thought is subtle yet beautiful. This novel offers a profound picture of acceptance.
djaquay on LibraryThing 2 days ago
First off, this was rather enjoyable and quite well written. I'm certainly not sorry I got it. But it wasn't what I was hoping for from Lewis, namely some form of religious or spiritual insight, such as was present in "Out of the Silent Planet" or "Narnia". And I was left confused as to whether or not I liked (or was supposed to like) the narrator/main character. Much of the book seemed to be critical of spirituality and religion, and supportive of rationality, which doesn't strike me as being Lewis' outlook. Anyway, it was quite interesting, and I'm still bound to read everything else by Lewis, just the same. (Note: I knew nothing of the myth of Eros/Psyche before reading this. You don't need to, but it affects this review, I'm guessing.)
fuzzy_patters on LibraryThing 2 days ago
A fascinating retelling of the mythological tale of Cupid and Psyche told through the eyes or Orual, on of Psyche's sisters. Lewis brings the mythological figures into modern times and makes them someone we can relate to while contrasting true selfless love with the envy of coveting another. I highly recomend it.
jenknox on LibraryThing 2 days ago
In my opinion, C.S. Lewis books are hit or miss. This book is a definate hit. I've reread this book many times and it never gets old. By page 2 I'm completely oblivious to everything around me, and by chapter 3 I've decided to pull an all nighter to finish reading it. I like it even better than his more well-known books. Definately worth reading!
Shortride on LibraryThing 2 days ago
A retelling of the Roman myth of Cupid and Psyche, Lewis approaches his subjects with an understanding of how humans operate, and our tendency to exaggerate. The tale focuses of Oural, the sister of Psyche, and her reasons for convincing Psyche to go against her husband's desires. Love is beautifully examined through this fine work, and the reader comes away from it with a new view of the power of love in our lives.
wirkman on LibraryThing 2 days ago
This is the best book C. S. Lewis ever wrote. Far and away his best novel. It is a clever, moving, perceptive, challenging retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth. But it is told so as to be, in effect, an Answer to Job. An amazing thing, that. I do not "buy" the answer, but it is, as near as I can make out, about as good as such answers can be. It's about what gods demand. And it is about vicarious suffering. And, well, you must read the book. No literate person who tries to make sense of Christianity can avoid this book. It is unique, beautiful, and well told.
guynameddave on LibraryThing 2 days ago
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 for the unjust ways in which he treats mortals. And also the book is about God¿s answer to that charge.¿Are the gods not just?¿¿Oh no, child. What would become of us if they were? But come and see¿...¿I ended my first book with the words no answer. I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away.¿Till We Have Faces is not an easy book. It takes some skill to read, and probably does not do all its work until the third or more reading. Those who like their discussions of God neat and tidy will likely misunderstand the book or even be repulsed by it. The pagan priest has what might be the best lines, ¿Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.¿
lossealasse on LibraryThing 2 days ago
A few months ago I was, through no fault of my own, made to read Christa Wolf's retelling of the Trojan War, "Cassandra". A feminist view of life with a much-wronged and angry heroine, it was mind-numbingly awful all the way through.Things were not made better by the fact that right through it, I was reminded of how much better Till We Have Faces is. Till We Have Faces is a never-failingly deep book; I've read it a number of times and still haven't reached the bottom of it. It is another retelling of Greek myth, this time that of Cupid and Psyche, and again it has an angry, much-wronged heroine. Lewis captures the inside of a woman's head ten times better than any other male author I have ever come across. The crowning achievement of Lewis's career, it is the story of the ugly sister, Orual, whose beautiful and much-loved sister is taken from her by the gods as a sacrifice, and her struggles to come to terms with this act of seemingly insane cruelty.
ebnelson on LibraryThing 2 days ago
It's a wonderful C.S. Lewis book that explores the seemingly inconsistent way divine interacts with people. If you don't count Great Divorce or Screwtape, this is Lewis's best work of fiction.My favorite elements:1. Intriguing story.2. Insightful exploration of why God doesn't reveal himself to everyone in the same way...if at all.3. Strong female lead character.4. Relationships and love take center stage.
jenpbarr on LibraryThing 2 days ago
C.S. Lewis tells a story from a woman's perspective and does it quite well. An unusual Lewis work both delightful and tragic. Possibly my most favorite book.
markmobley on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Breath-taking.I am a serious fan of Mr. Lewis. I have read basically everything that he ever wrote. But I bought this one and kept it on the shelf for years without touching it. maybe I was put off by the "re-telling" business. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that this was my favorite Lewis book by far.Lewis' strength is his ability to search the human heart for its motives. He stuns me with his insight to our emotions, our little lies that we tell ourselves, the secrets that we hide from even ourselves. And this is a masterpiece.Screwtape, another creation of Lewis, declared that "no man is ever very near the truth". In typical Screwtape fashion, the statement is bith true and appallingly false. We spend our entire lives hiding from the truth, running from the truth, reworking the truth, re-telling th truth. But then we come across a work like this one, and all of our lies are stripped away, our self-deception that was so cleverly constructed is toppled with one big bang. And we are humbled.The thing that stuns me about Lewis is his insights. I am amazed at them when I read them. I later realize that, given one hundred years of thought, I would never have come up with them myself. And I am thoroughly humbled. This book does it to me time and again. I am exposed, shamed, overjoyed, convicted and forgiven in one fell swoop. My pragmatism is swept away and I long to be an artist, one who can reveal beauty and truth without didactics. Thank you, Mr. Lewis.
colombe on LibraryThing 6 days ago
One of my other favorite novels-- a reworking of the Psyche and Eros myth, but an emphasis on the tortures and beauties of love.
ithilwyn on LibraryThing 8 days ago
My all time favorite book by Lewis, though I'm admittedly partial to novels that retell older myths and fairy tales.
inklingsfan47 on LibraryThing 8 days ago
The going got a lot slower towards the end of this, but only because my perpetual weeping would have ruined the pages if I had kept it open. This is one of the best books I have ever read. Truly. As Orual retells her story one gets the feeling that had she not been the teller, one would not have liked her at all. As it was, I pitied her immensely; probably more than the Fox or Psyche or even the beloved Bardia. Throughout the story, the ugly princess Orual tells of her love for Psyche, her younger and beautiful sister, without realizing that her love is selfish and harmful. Orual has taken care of Psyche since she was a baby; Psyche leans on Orual as if she were her mother. After a chain of unfortunate events, Psyche is condemned as an Offering to the goddess Ungit, but is saved by Ungit's son, a god who falls in love with Psyche and takes her to his palace only godly eyes can see. Orual, embittered and furious, goes to Psyche in an attempt to take back whom she believes is 'her own', but is unsuccessful and in the end, utterly ruins both her sister's and her own chance for happiness. For many years Orual writes her 'complaint' to the gods, which is the book itself, detailing the many unfairnesses they have dealt her. She grows cold and keeps her ugly face veiled at all times. Finally, as the dying Queen of Glome, Orual at last realizes that in order to understand the will of the gods, we must first understand ourselves -- and what a heartbreaking revelation it is! 'Till We Have Faces' is, in my opinion, the best of all of Mr. Lewis' books ( though that counts for little as I haven't read them all ), and I am shocked it's gotten as little attention as it has. This is good literature, people! *pokes*