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The renowned tale of Amor and Psyche, from Apuleius's second-century Latin novel The Golden Ass, is one of the most charming fragments of classical literature. Neumann chose it as the exemplar of an unusual study of feminine psychology. Unfolding the spiritual and mythical background of the pagan narrative, he shows how the contest between the mortal maid Psyche and the great goddess Aphrodite over the god Amor—Aphrodite's son, Psyche's husband—yields surprising and valuable insights into the psychic life of women.
Making use of the tale of Psyche from Apuleius, Neumann delves into the pschological nature of the feminine in analytical thinking.
I picked up Amor and Psyche in an effort to learn more about the development of the female psyche. Written by an important thinker, Erich Neumann was one of Carl Jung’s most gifted students and Amor and Psyche is a classical expression of the Jungian deep, clear, and detailed analysis. It also seems to be a trend that they chose mythological stories to explore psychology.
Here, the reader learns the difference between the passionate love of Aphrodite and soulful love of Psyche. Psyche’s name means “soul” in Greek and she is the first goddess to be born as a human. Neumann traces the development of Psyche, from the unconscious, to needing a conscious, to participating in life fully.
In parts, I found this too challenging read and overall was a little disappointed that I didn’t “get it” better. It’s certainly a well-received classic, so I’m inclined to hold myself responsible for the shortfall. There are other books in this area of thought that I found easier to read and more relevant to the inquiries I have about life, love, and the feminine. I would suggest Impossible Love or Why the Heart Must Go Wrong (also written by a Jungian analyst) and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.