Sunday, January 17, 2010

Psyche and Cupid

Psyche et L'Amour by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Amor and Psyche by Antonio Canova

Amor and Psyche by Johann Heinrich Fussli

With Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis took Psyche and Cupid's already allegorically charged myth of love, perseverance, and redemption and re-told it as an extended metaphor for the human soul's relationship with God. It is one of the only novels that haunts me. Its images live powerfully in my imagination. These paintings, which have nothing to do with the Lewis novel, I know, nevertheless take from my eye a retrospective light: Till We Have Faces, for me at least, eclipses the myth, or at least becomes so entangled with it that I cannot look at these images as anything other than before-the-fact illustrations for a novel that hadn't been written yet. There might be some sort of temporal-hermeneutical anomaly happening here. 


Nevis said...

One of my favorite paintings, ever, "Saturno Devouring His Son" by Goya. Or possibly anything by Max Beckmann. Or Matisse. I'm so inspired by them!

60stadia said...

I've never been tempted to start a blog until after reading nearly all your posts on this page. I enjoyed it, man. Still, my life is too busy to start one just now.

Anyway, all I intended on saying is "well written!" And, I'll be teaching Till We Have Faces in a few days to high school seniors. Again. I keep telling them that I tried to save the best of our novels for last. By the way, the "temporal-hermeneutical anomaly" is what one writer (whose name fails me right now ... Sykes, maybe?) refers to as a "narrative of repentance," likening Orual's story to a Hebrew 'mashal' (a sort of narrative trap that one might lay for another in order to reveal to him his own error; cf. Nathan & King David, concerning Bathsheba and Uriah). You can probably find this professor's essay online.

I have to agree: TWHF is one of the greatest stories I've ever read. Good luck with your novel (how's it coming along?).


Risa said...

Thanks for posting you point out something I didn't know.