sábado, 24 de enero de 2009

The Golden Ass

Apuleius Metamorphoses (Asinus Aureus) (Penguin Classics paperback, 2004)
by Apuleius (translated from the Latin by E.J. Kenney)
North Africa, c. 175

That 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list sure has a lot of outright dogs on it, kind reader, but I'll spare you a sermon on it tonight since it also includes this 1800-year old classic about a man turned into a donkey. Although anyone interested in the history of the novel should certainly read Apuleius at some point in time just because, suffice it to say that his The Golden Ass (a/k/a The Metamorphoses, here translated with verve by the University of Cambridge's E.J. Kenney) isn't the sort of boring fiction that's been popularized by today's writers. Bestiality, murder, and witchcraft all play a big role in the comic proceedings that plague poor narrator Lucius after he's been transformed into an ass and abused by one unsavory owner after another, and the work's gleeful mix of high and low humor and freewheeling use of a frame narrative will seem completely unrestrained to anyone conditioned by literary fiction's current vogue for precious and tweedy prose. While I don't know enough about second century mystery cults to hazard a guess as to whether Lucius' final metamorphosis from an ass into an initiate of Isis is as spiritually significant as some scholars would have it, I do know enough about the modern novel to wish we had more Golden Asses and Satyricons and fewer Paul Auster and Ian McEwan titles. A pagan classic! (http://www.penguinclassics.com/)

Apuleius: not just another dead guy on a painted ceiling tile.

4 comentarios:

  1. Hi, Richard! Thanks for visiting at Books 'N Border Collies! This is a great summary of The Golden Ass. I really enjoyed it also.

    I very much enjoy the 1001 Books reading list because it has been a great opportunity for me to read books and authors I would never have read otherwise, even if I didn't love them. However, I do agree that it's a little heavy on a few of authors. The 2008 version has changed it up a little bit, and is also fun to peruse.

    Lezlie

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  2. Lezlie, there are certainly a lot of great books on those lists; however, it's hard for me to take them seriously since they recommend authors like Erica Jong, Stephen King, and Anne Rice and completely ignore more worthy ones like Julio Cortázar. What a joke! Anyway, thanks for the visit--maybe we can find another Apuleius in common someday!

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  3. Richard ~ Yeah, I don't take any of them seriously. I think it would be fun to make my own list like that someday! :-) I we find another in common, too! I've subscribed to your blog now, so I'll be keeping an eye on what you've got going. You read very interesting stuff!

    Lezlie

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  4. You're the first person who's ever owned up to subscribing to this, Lezlie, so I hope you find some more stuff of interest here down the road! And I look forward to seeing your own "1001 Books" list if you ever get around to it!

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