Mini-Review — Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis

Wrote this small blurb as my tenth journal entry for ENGL205 (Introduction to Mythology). Throughout the quarter, we were assigned to write weekly journal entries based on our choice of one of three books. I chose to read Till We Have Faces.

I chose Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold originally because it was the only option I hadn’t already read. I wanted something that could possibly challenge me and C.S. Lewis seemed like the best option. I’d read some of his work before (mainly, yes, The Chronicles of Narnia) and felt like I was up for the task of reading more of Lewis’s writing. At times, I find his style hard to swallow because there is so much detail spent on just the story alone but I feel that’s also what I appreciate the most about his work.

I also enjoyed this retelling because it was a retelling. The original mythos is great, but I just love to read what other people come up with. (One of my favorite retellings is Ophelia by Lisa Klein, a Young Adult novel that retells the story of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet from Ophelia’s point-of-view; it’s so beautiful and the author and I shared some of the same ideas about where Ophelia was coming from in her actions and interactions.)

I’ve found it’s always interesting to read a retelling from the point-of-view of the antagonist (in this case, Orual was one of the antagonists in the original mythos, but for Lewis’s work she is the protagonist) because it provides something like a deeper understanding of the work. It also gives the author an opportunity to try and explain actions that may have been originally seen as reprehensible (example in this case would be Orual and Redival in the original mythos getting Psyche to betray her husband, Cupid; Lewis took the opportunity in this work to show the reader some kind of reasoning for the action from Orual’s point-of-view that contrasts the original mythos.) and either defend the character or not. My favorite part of this novel was that Lewis didn’t choose to defend Orual outright and, in fact, the way his writing style works actually shows that her actions were more than likely not the best choice for the scenario.

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