Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold - C. S. Lewis

I'd heard of this title quite a while ago (it's hard to say how long ago), but never read it until now. In fact, up until I checked it out from the library, I knew nothing about it other than the title and author. It turns out to be fiction, a reworking of the Cupid and Psyche myth, but also more than that. For those unfamiliar with the story, Lewis provides a summary of the first known occurrence in literature (which itself may be a retelling as well) in the afterword. He also explains that his version, while finding its source in the Apuleius' version, is not necessarily inspired by or modeled after it.

Lewis' version is told from the point of view of Psyche's older sister, and in fact the classical Cupid and Psyche myth is only the centerpiece of a much longer tale, a story that ultimately has to do with the vast gulf between the immortal and the mortal, the sacred and the profane. It's a little like the book of Job, in that a mortal makes an accusation against the gods, and the response takes an unexpected form.

This is, like much of Lewis' writing, a classic, but it's not one of my favorites. I think I'll have to give it some time to sink in a little, and perhaps read it again later on. The story is not pleasant, but has a sort of haunting quality to it. Also, the story is told from a woman's perspective, but it doesn't always feel right: many of Lewis' views would be considered sexist today, and that may be offputting to some readers, regardless of the time and place where the story takes place.

Fed to jonathan's brain | May 07, 2004