Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
Often cited as C. S. Lewis's greatest work, here he retells the myth of Cupid and Psyche. Lewis said he was haunted by the source material all his life, because he was struck by how illogical some of the main characters' actions were. By recasting the myth as the tale of two mortal princesses caught in a love triangle, he explores devotion and loss, dedication and betrayal, and the different ways we can love. To hear more about this book, listen to What Should I Read Next episode 27, "Books good enough to make you turn off the tv (even if you love tv)," in which Kendra Adachi names this a lifetime favorite novel.
“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