C.S. Lewis reinvents the story of Cupid and Psyche, combining obsessive love and blind fidelity with redemption and reconciliation. I suppose you could read this novel as a pure retelling of the famous myth. But I found it difficult to separate the mythical aspects from the religious philosophy Lewis infuses into his text. It’s very much a tale of learning and discovery, cleansing the soul to find inner beauty and peace.
The story’s told from the point of view of Orual, Psyche’s older half-sister. Orual’s story describes her own personal battle between her mind and soul in her attempts to come to terms with the choices and decisions she made in the past. No matter how hard she tries to hide and dismiss those memories, they still manage to haunt and govern her thoughts and actions in the present. The thematic elements thus make the story quite poignant and at times seem rather intense. As I was reading, at times I found myself wishing Orual could find some happiness to help alleviate the intensity of her depression, yet her story increasingly becomes darker and more depressed as time progresses. In a way, there are two books here, with two different conclusions or takes on life and circumstance. The shift is made internally, rather than initiating from an outside source. Ultimately it is reflection and reinterpretation that brings about change. All in all through his eloquent writing style Lewis offers a rather intriguing re-crafting of the Cupid and Psyche myth.
As a side note, I loved the character of the Fox, Orual’s and Psyche’s Greek tutor. The descriptions pertaining to him are very visual, and at times when he would make an astute and somewhat comical remark, in my mind’s eye I could almost picture a Claude Rains type of tone and delivery… a playful ironic jest.