Over on Rough Draft I’ve posted my review of Sylvia Townsend Warner’s 1929 novel The True Heart, which is based on the story of Eros and Psyche in Apuleius’ The Golden Ass. For the classically-literate, the allusions to Apuleius’s story are clever and amusing. Eros and Psyche are Eric and Sukey. Aprhodite is Eric’s mother, Mrs. Seaborn. Mrs. Seaborn’s husband is the fire-and-brimstone preacher Rev. Smith Seaborn (Hephaistos). Ox-eyed Juno is Mrs. Oxey, the keeper of a “disorderly house” who has a stuffed peacock in her drawing room. Even Lucina, the goddess of childbirth, shows up in the form of Mrs. Lucy, the midwife. And Psyche’s visit to Persephone, the queen of the underworld, is transposed into an audience with Queen Victoria. The True Heart is an odd novel, but also lovely and fascinating, especially for a classicist.
Sylvia Townsend Warner is likely to have read the story of Eros and Pysche in the 1923 translation by the poet and pioneering British gay rights activist Edward Carpenter, who died in 1929, when Warner’s novel was published.