Till We Have Faces
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Introductory Materials

Till We Have Faces (1956) is the last novel that C. S. Lewis wrote.  He considered it his personal favorite of all his work, although it was not well received by the public or the critics.  He dedicated it to Joy Davidman, who closely collaborated with him on it.  The writing process occurred in 1955, before they were married, when Joy and her boys lived in a rented house a mile from the Kilns.  Lewis had long been fascinated with the myth of Cupid and Psyche.  In the 1920s he tried to write it as a poem without success.

This book was written one year after Surprised by Joy, Lewis's spiritual autobiography.  The careful reader will see some of the same themes in both books.  In fact, some critics think Lewis put a lot of himself into the character of Orual.  Peter Schakel writes, "The story of Orual ... is also the story of Surprised by Joy.  Each is a story of unconsicousness, and of the acheivement of wholeness through sacrificial death; and each is the story of Lewis himself."  Humphrey Carpenter (author of The Inklings) agrees, referring to Orual as a "self-portrait of Lewis."

Lewis originally intended to title the book Bareface, but the publisher thought that sounded too much like an American western.  So instead, he borrowed a phrase from the end of the book to use for the title.

Once again, thanks to Pat Poret of the Chapel Hill C. S. Lewis Book Club for her help in writing some of the study guide questions, especially in Book II.

Note: Page numbers in the study guide are to the Harcourt paperback edition.

Further reading:

Hooper, Walter, C. S. Lewis: A Complete Guide to his Life & Works (1996), pg 243-263.

Myers, Doris T., Bareface: A Guide to C. S. Lewis's Last Novel (2004).

Myers, Doris T., "Browsing the Glome Library" in Seven 19 (2002), pg. 63-76.

Myers, Doris T., C. S. Lewis in Context (1994), pg. 182-213.

Schakel, Peter J., Reason and Imagination in C. S. Lewis: A Study of Till We Have Faces (1984).  The book is now out of print; however, Hope College makes an electronic version available on their website.
http://www.hope.edu/academic/english/schakel/tillwehavefaces/