28 January 2011

C.S Lewis 'Till We Have Faces

'Till We Have Faces is a book a read a couple of years ago because it was recommended by a good friend. I found it profound and deeply moving. It is a retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, which had haunted Lewis all his life. It is daring, experimental, and unlike anything before or after it in his published work. The setting for the book is in an unnamed time, in a mythical land of Glome. I assume it is set in the distant past. The leader of Glome (King Trom) has daughters: Orual and Psyche.

Psyche, the younger of the sisters, is beautiful both of face and spirit and beloved by all. She is sent as a sacrifice to the gods when trouble invades the township. Orual is ugly (in her own words) and as an adult, does not show her face in public. After her father's death, she is crowned queen, and finds that her life experiences have made her a wise and fair ruler.

The story centers on the love between the two sisters (Orual and Psyche). But the love Orual has for her sister is exposed incrementally as you see her self-hatred, her jealousy of Psyche and the questioning of whether the gods are good.

'Till We Have Faces
examines how the heart loves – and that it can destroy a relationship when insecurity and ego poison the purity of love. It examines self-perceived truth that can become cloaked in jealousy and protectiveness. It examines spirituality, not the traditional relationship with God, but rather the internal peace and sanctity that every person must find to discover who they really are. It is a powerful, moving story that causes the reader to evaluate and think through their personal love, truth and spirituality, and the driving force behind each one. Identity is at the core of the mythic drama throughout the book. Loved it.


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