Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Till We have Faces--I must admit that I would never have thought that CS Lewis had written this. I guess Chronicles of Narnia still looms large as my main mental association with Lewis (the movie is coming out this fall, and actually looks like it might be decent. The effects appear Tolkienesque). Till We Have Faces is a retelling of the Psyche & Cupid myth, told in an earthy style that I enjoy.
The land is under a plague and the people demand to sacrifice beautiful Psyche to the shadowbrute, to the god-of-the-mountain. The narrator Orual is not sure whether the stories say that the sacrificial victim is devoured by the brute, or taken to be the bride of the god (to be 'devoured' by his love). She eventually realizes that either way, the term 'devour' is an essential term in relation to the gods. Its violent connotation is reminiscient of the behavior of the gods, who are so far removed from mortals that what they do is all too easily misunderstood by the people of the earth. Those of you who know the Psyche myth know there is plenty more to the story, but this is what I took away with this reading. (My style of reading calls for countless re-readings, with each reading plucking some new grain of truth to chew on).
I think what makes this brooding book stick is the fresh take on Greek mythology. Those stories have been told so often, and the gods are so whimsical, like mortals allowed to have everything their way, that the stories quickly became rote. This book made them intimidating again. It reminded me why mythology has remained even as the years fade away

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