Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Words Wednesday: Quote from "Till We Have Faces"

I'm not giving anything away from the plot of C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces to quote from near the end.   After all, the novel is a retelling of a well-known Greek myth, and follows fairly closely the story, though with interesting and beautiful twists. This quote from when Orual finishes her story, is the passage from which the book derives its name:

"The complaint was the answer.  To have heard myself making it was to be answered.  Lightly men talk of saying what they mean.  Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, 'Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words.'

A glib saying.  When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer.  Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean?  How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?"

Any great quotes you'd like to share from books you are reading?



    The title of the book is a mystery until this very point in the story!

    Is it about the faceless Ungit? Is about the beautiful Psyche? Is it about her ugly sister? Here in the penultimate chapter we learn that it's about an individual quest to be worthy of addressing the gods. That the truth we think we seek is a dim shadow. That when we see god face to face we may find that all we have to say - the entire testimony of our lives - may sound like no more than the rantings of an angry child.

    Yes, you're giving away a LOT.

    But thanks, I was looking for the quote today.

  2. I guess you are right, I was giving away a lot. I should have been more clear about that. However, I do think that the title is not strictly about the quote, but about all the things you list and more. The book "Till We Have Faces" and the title, and the solution to the title, are still mysteries. That's why it's such a great book to read and re-read.

  3. lovely book! mind telling me what page that excerpt is from?

  4. It is in p. 294 of a recent edition (I am looking at my niece's copy as I am not at home), but it is just at the start of Chapter Four in Part II of Till We Have Faces. I hope that helps you find the quote in your own copy.

  5. Charged Up For Jesus!April 25, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    I hope that you read Lewis's space trilogy...

    Another book that is really good is Louisa May Alcott's book A LONG FATFAL LOVE CHASE..