Daily Book Challenge: Day 30

15 Sep

Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

TWHF

I’ve talked about this book and this author a lot already – as said with The Screwtape letters, this is the sort of book that makes me work, but unlike Screwtape, there’s a lot of reading between the lines.

Our story is about Orual, an ugly-queen who lodges her complaint against the gods, which in her time would have been hubris. Orual is the sister of the mythological Psyche, who was famed for her beauty and compared to Aphrodite. Aphrodite would have none of this, so she sent her son, Eros, to make her fall in love with someone. He accidently shoots himself, and he falls in love with Psyche. When she goes away, Orual goes after her and convinces Psyche to betray Eros’s trust (she hasn’t seen his face and Orual loves Psyche in a possessive sort of way, her intentions are not pure and she wants Psyche to come back home, not out of jealousy of her husband like in the original myth) thus Psyche is condemned by Aphrodite and sent to her trials, whereas Orual, her part in the story is that she too would face trial and tribulations. Their lives go in opposite directions, and although Orual’s situation improves, she never sees her sister again.

The story goes before and beyond the myth – I can’t recommend it to those who haven’t read the story (it’s in Apuleius’s The Golden Ass, but you can find a cartoon that’ll give you the jist of it on youtube).

The novel takes its time to set up this scenario – Orual’s strained relationship with her father and her coming into power, her being ashamed over something she cannot control (her looks) and her eventual covering up her face, which leads to question as to whether or not she’s so beautiful, she needs to hide herself away. The story, from her own words, sort of makes you despise Orual, because she is venomous and feels wronged, but the narrative reveals that those around her like her and she comes across as a much more competent ruler than her father – and while I chagrin to use the term ‘progressive for her time’ those who claim Lewis is sexist will find no problem here.

In addition to the story-telling, there is the use of metaphor. Many ancient stories that have survived over the centuries did so because they were preserved – in the Western Tradition, this was done primarily by Monks, and if you study the history of it, for the most part it was because these monks found virtue in the ‘pagan works’, of which is a huge topic and I can’t discuss with any great merit in this blog. This is Narnia without the fat, without the preachy obviously-for-children-but-not-really-it’s-for-adults-who-think-they-think-like-kids. Lewis extended the ideas of his Christian theology (of which there are numerous books)into classic ‘pagan’ myth. I love mythology, and Greek mythology was my gateway – and I love discussing philosophy and religion, so when we put this altogether, we have something written on numerous levels, talking about Christian virtue in a non-Christian setting.

Are there people who won’t like it? Absolutely – I’ve seen lots of people dismiss Lewis and not dig into what he was getting at, and lots of people despise him anyway. Other people aren’t familiar with the source material, and other people aren’t going to find the topic interesting.

But I adore it.

That ends this challenge – in the meantime, I have a book tour going on with Pump Up Your Books – you can check out the schedule here. I will be posting more regularly – I have a lot of work cut out for me before Winnipeg’s Comic Con – but I’m going to try and keep things somewhat regular.

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