By Jan Pease and Raechel K.
If I say the name, C.S. Lewis, some immediately think of his wonderful series, “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Others might think of his great books about Christianity, such as “Mere Christianity,” or “The Screwtape Letters.” Someone else might be a fan of his science fiction series, “Space Trilogy.” But my friend Raechel, who is 16 now, has read one his most difficult books, “Till We Have Faces.”
“Till We Have Faces” is a retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. The myth of Cupid and Psyche has been told and retold in many forms, including “Beauty and the Beast.” The invisible castle, the mysterious husband who cannot be glimpsed, coming in the night to his wife, and the forbidden look and its consequences are all familiar elements of the various versions that originated with the Greek myth from long ago.
C.S. Lewis told the myth from the perspective of Psyche’s older sister, Orual (Or ‘w’ ahl). Lewis originally titled his working manuscripts "Bareface.” The word "face" refers to Orual’s deformity, which she covers with a mask. It also refers to the original myth, in which Psyche was not allowed to see Cupid's face, so her intimate encounters with him would be veiled in darkness. His editor was afraid that people would think his book was a western if the title was “Bareface!” Lewis chose “Till We Have Faces,” which refers to a line from the book in which Orual says, "How can [the gods] meet us face to face till we have faces?"
Raechel’s thoughts about “Till We Have Faces:” “I was thoroughly impressed with this book, especially the ending of it. C.S. Lewis had an extremely valuable talent that has lasted in his writing for years now. I was amazed and delighted with how deep and well written “Till We Have Faces” was. There is more to it than just the surface words, and it is quite thought provoking. I really loved the last paragraph in the book: how C.S. Lewis had Orual word it was absolutely perfect. I definitely think it is a five star book. Ages 14 and up, perhaps.”
The paragraph mentioned is this: “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice? Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words. Long did I hate you, long did I fear you. I might”- The epilogue states that the manuscript was found under the head of the queen, who must have died as she wrote the final words. Do we fill in the end of the sentence for ourselves?
C.S. Lewis died November 22, 1963, to very little notice. The end of his life was overshadowed by the assassination of John F. Kennedy on that very day. Information for this article was found online and in the 1966 version of “Till We Have Faces.”
I’m looking for teen book reviewers, like Raechel, who will write me a short book review. Forms are available at the desk. I will include student book reviews in future articles, a fun part of “Own the Night,” the teen reading program for this summer. Summer Reading programs in Meeker County will begin on June 4th. Grove City’s kickoff is from 1-3 p.m.; kids will decorate T-shirts. Dassel’s kickoff is from 3-6 and Litchfield’s is from 3-7. Kids in Dassel and Litchfield will decorate pillowcases to help them “Dream Big, Read.” See you at the library!