Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Till We Have Faces

A few days ago I finished rereading Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis and I'm still processing it. It's been many years since I've read it and I don't know if I ever will read it again. It's one of the most disturbing novels I've read. As I read the book I kept thinking about something Anne Lamott wrote to hopeful novelists about the importance of creating a likable narrator. She viewed this as an absolute necessity to becoming a successful novelist. The fascination however with Lewis's Orual is how detestable she is. There is a lurid egoistic quality about her supposed selfless love of Psyche that is very unsettling. To be honest, I think much of the disturbing quality to the novel comes from the reality that I can easily have the same tendency towards using others to satisfy my own needs and desires. When you peer into the mirror and see a reflection so base and so ugly as the character of Orual, you can't help being disturbed. I think anyone who is honest would see themselves so.

2 comments:

Scott Lyons said...

Till We Have Faces is one of my favorite books - my hands-down favorite book by Lewis. There's such depth and richness there - such misery and sin, and such redemption and light. It's been several years since I read it, but I always find it a gorgeous "myth, retold."

Dan said...

I agree that there is redemption, but it's a bit obfuscated...not as clearly defined in his meaning as in his other writing.

I can't say that it's my favorite. Right now, I'd say it's my least favorite novel of his, but the one I respect the most.