For me, C.S. Lewis has been a faceless source of brilliance since I first read his words. My love for him has had no other foundation. The words he penned throughout his lifetime in the form of novels, letters, lectures and poems are so poignant and strong in my mind that I need not even conjure up an image of how he might have looked.
To be sure, pictures are available to me, seeing that I live in the twenty-first century, but I feel as though a picture might shatter the ethereal nature that surrounds his work. A man so otherworldly would then be laid hold of and fastened in time.
As mystical of a man as he may seem, there is importance in identifying him as creator of literary masterpieces, and I hope that sharing knowledge of him will, in turn, grow love.
While his name has been set apart in history as a name of great importance, people in evangelical circles mostly recognize him as a theologian of sorts, and he is slightly known in broader circles as author of the fanciful Chronicles of Narnia. However, he has brought us much more than these two contributions alone.
Being born two years before the turn of the century in Belfast, Northern Ireland on November 29, 1898, Lewis was recognized early as having a great will and a great imagination. He was always creating imaginative worlds full of humanistic animals with his older brother, Warren, and spending many a rainy day reading or exploring the architecturally unsound nooks and crannies of his home situated in the outskirts of Belfast.
His childlike wonder and curiosity were miraculously sustained throughout his life and, when translated to the written page, won him admiration from young and old audiences alike. With his wonder and curiosity there came a great amount of candor. Lewis’ bluntness could easily lend itself to opposition, but it should also be welcomed as a fresh and rare sincerity.
Lewis was a mentally strong man who readily allowed facts and truths to be embraced by questions and ponderings. He set a precedence that the two extremes could live in great harmony, and ought to live this way. Until 1929, he was a staunch atheist, but later converted to Christianity in 1931. His experience with opposing thought processes allowed him to be endeared by people of all backgrounds. In 1925, he was appointed as an English Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and nearly thirty years later he became chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge. In his life, he published over thirty books; some deal with very literal subjects and are presented as lecture material while others spin brilliantly crafted stories interwoven with beautiful truths.
One of his most gripping novels is entitled, Till We Have Faces. Originally published towards the last years of his life in 1956, Lewis wrote this novel as a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche but from the perspective of Psyche’s disfigured sister, Orual. When Orual’s love for her sister is challenged by the even greater love Cupid has for Psyche, Orual becomes jealous and reactive. Her emotionally driven choices condemn both Psyche and herself to great pain. Orual’s strong will is no match for that of Cupid and the gods. Lewis expertly and intricately explores the mind of Orual as she lives condemned to her miserable fate.
This novel has been commended by the New York Herald Tribune as "The most significant and triumphant work that Lewis has . . . produced.” However, the story remains one of his most obscure literary works. Whether you are new to the name C.S. Lewis or you have long regarded him as the brilliant man that he is, we invite you to gain a fresh perspective on his style and character by reading Till We Have Faces.