2 min read

A faceless void, beheld by all
Walking in a world, to self enthralled
Where love abounds, hate is enflamed
And true hope secured, the end of our shame
It’s impossible to read rightly, unless you know
That love which shines brightly, radiant glow
We see through a glass darkly, and thus in part
But we will see starkly, with true face and heart

Reader’s Note: Pair this book (either before or after) with The Four Loves, which Lewis published a few years later. These two books complement each other very well as Till We Have Faces is effectively a fictional illustration of so many themes expounded in The Four Loves.

It’s been a couple weeks since I finished this book, and I’m still trying to process what to make of it. It was an engaging enough story that kept me interested throughout, although I felt it dragged on at times in the middle. However, as I finished and pondered it was clear that the middle was important towards the whole. It helped that I had read an introductory essay first to give me my bearings as I proceeded through the book.

Honestly, I feel that it will take another reading to digest some of the deeper themes at work here and fully appreciate what Lewis is doing. Several elements resonated:

  • The four loves: as mentioned, the characters in this work so profoundly draw out the beauty and the perversions of the various types of natural and divine love.
  • Suffering and Job - while not a parallel work, I definitely caught hints of Job’s troubles and his charges against God, especially when it came to Orual’s airing of her true complaints.
  • Self-deception - Lewis captured beautifully the way that we so easily deceive ourselves and justify our actions after the fact.

Some of my initial reticence with the book was its lack of a clearly discernable Christian framework. Although certainly you catch glimpses of a Christian view of reality with the god on the mountain, the story never quite leaves its pagan form. Once I realized my mistake of trying to read this as Christian allegory, rather than what it is - a retelling of a pagan myth to portray reality as understood by a Christian mind but still in the form and from the perspective of a pre-Christian myth - then I could begin to appreciate some of the subtle and overt imagery throughout. Lewis is not trying to write a fictional gospel tract, but tell a good story, and if in that telling he awakens something in the reader’s soul that sends him seeking after, or going into deeper worship of, the true God, then it will have accomplished a good end.