Philosophical and religious adaptations of the story, often dedicated to female readers, enabled women authors to interpret Cupid and Psyche in their own fashion.
Mary Blachford Tighe (1772-1810) wrote a Spenserian adaptation of Cupid and Psyche in six cantos: Psyche or The Legend of Love, which was at first privately published in 1805. The first two cantos are closely based on Apuleius’ story, whereas cantos III-VI are a much freer response to the story; after the couple’s separation, Psyche goes on a quest, together with Cupid in disguise, to reconcile his mother to their marriage. On their journey they encounter personifications of emotions, such as Jealousy or Passion, who either help or hinder their quest. In the end, Cupid and Psyche are reunited and happily married.
The poem brought Tighe fame and the nickname “Psyche”, identifying the author with her subject, a conflation ironically frequent for her source text, too – already St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) mistook the author Apuleius for his fictional first person narrator Lucius, and claimed that the author had experienced the novel’s story of adventure and witchcraft himself, and Lucius and Apuleius have been frequently conflated.
After Tighe’s early death from tuberculosis, her book went through frequent reprints, one of which was admiringly read by the young John Keats. The Brotherton has several of them
Copyright University of Leeds