1. bookVolume 20 (2022): Issue 3 (July 2022)
    A Multi-Angle Examination of C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces. Theological, Philosophical, Ethical, and Literary Insights from one of Lewis's Greatest Novels. Issue Editor: Zachary Breitenbach
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eISSN
2284-7308
First Published
20 Sep 2012
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3 times per year
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English
access type Open Access

Self-Knowledge, Who God Is, and a Cure for our Deepest Shame: A Few Reflections on Till We Have Faces

Published Online: 19 May 2022
Volume & Issue: Volume 20 (2022) - Issue 3 (July 2022)<br/>A Multi-Angle Examination of C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces. Theological, Philosophical, Ethical, and Literary Insights from one of Lewis's Greatest Novels. Issue Editor: Zachary Breitenbach
Page range: 3 - 20
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2284-7308
First Published
20 Sep 2012
Publication timeframe
3 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

Till We Have Faces is a retelling of the Cupid/Psyche myth with a few twists, namely, a nonstandard narrator and the inability of Psyche’s sister, Orual, to see the palace. Both innovations lead the reader to understand better the dynamics at play in Orual’s effort to disrupt Psyche’s life with her husband/god. The inability to see, on Orual’s part, at first suggests that the nature of the story is primarily epistemological. What is it that can be reasonably known or inferred? Digging deeper, however, reveals that the epistemic elements are actually penultimate, and that instead the book bolsters an ethically robust epistemology. Who we are deeply affects what we can see. Before Orual could apprehend the nature of the gods, she had to be brutally honest about who she herself was. A victim of abuse who was constantly shamed for reasons beyond her control, she is a sympathetic character in several ways, but she gradually moves from being victim to victimizer, treating others as means to ends, and, in the case of Psyche, ‘loving’ her in a way that was more hate than love. Self-knowledge was needed for Orual to apprehend the truth. She comes to realize her treatment of Bardia, Batta, Redival, and especially Psyche was not as pure and altruistic as she had thought. She had to come to terms with the ugliness within herself, and her penchant for consuming others, before she could hope to see the beauty and love of the gods for what they were.

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