In today’s book recommendation we will take a look at a work written by C.S. Lewis in his later years. One of Lewis’ lesser known books, Till We Have Faces is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche told from the perspective of Psyche’s older sister, Orual.
The original myth tells of Psyche, a woman so beautiful she was revered by men and envied by women, including the goddess, Venus. Fueled by jealousy, Venus approached her son Cupid and charged him with the responsibility of punishing Psyche. However, he fell in love with Psyche and took her away to his palace. They were intimate by the cover of darkness, as Cupid did not allow Psyche to look on his face. Psyche’s sisters visited her and out of jealousy convinced her to light a lamp to reveal the god’s face. Cupid banished Psyche, and she was left to roam the earth until she was able to again prove her worth through many trials, reuniting herself to Cupid.
In Lewis’ exploration of this myth, readers are seeing the story unfold through Orual’s eyes. He presents readers with two sisters: one is beautiful, well- loved, and faith- filled while the other is ugly, bitter, and filled with doubts. Psyche, the great beauty, seems to have it easy, even when her people turn against her she is taken into the home of a god. Orual, the bitter sister, seems to have been dealt a harsh hand, even the one who loves her best, Psyche, leaves her. Both sisters speak to our own humanity. Psyche, in her longing for a great romance and feeling displaced in the world of men, echoes our own longing for a heavenly home. In her bitterness, Orual lodges a complaint against the gods and expresses frustration with the gods’ silence; a frustration not unknown.
As the story unfolds we find that both sisters must make a hard journey. Psyche must make her way back to a god she has faith in, a god whose love she craves. Orual must journey to find the truth about the gods, and in the meantime must discover her own worth. Lewis’ retelling is beautiful and thought provoking as it addresses our deepest longing, the very thing we were made for, and our deepest wounds. It is certainly a worthwhile and deeply satisfying read.
Written by Katie Hollcraft