Bill Kerwin's Reviews > The Golden Ass

The Golden Ass by Apuleius
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Apr 09, 12

bookshelves: proto-novels, picaresque, fantasy, weird-fiction
Read from February 23 to March 08, 2012

If you remember the old toga movies from the '50's--the ones where all the Romans are played by Brits and all the Jews and Christians by Americans--then I am sure you also remember those orgiastic banquet sequences crammed with sweaty wrestlers, kinky dancers, amphora after amphora overflowing with wine, and culinary surprises like roast oxen stuffed with pheasants (the pheasants in turn stuffed with oysters), and golden salvers heaped high with hummingbird tongues.

"The Golden Ass" is a lot like that. It has everything: comic misunderstandings and cruel mistreatment, amorous slave girls and lustful matrons, witches and ghosts, robbers and murderers, people transformed into animals, an account of religious conversion--plus a visit from the Queen of Heaven and a little bestiality thrown in for good measure. This picaresque work of late second century Roman Africa revels in its own excess and ornamentation, scattering its tales within tales with a spendthrift abandon, and yet preserving a sense of unity through its theme. It shows us how the individual's journey through pleasure and suffering, servility and beastliness, may eventually lead to humility and spiritual regeneration.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by B0nnie (new) - added it

B0nnie cool review, and it's nice that you can just download the book here

message 2: by Henry (new) - added it

Henry Avila Fun book to read and interesting insight into Roman life.

Bill  Kerwin Yes. Except for Juvenal, I don't remember any other Roman work that gives such a vivid picture of the rich variety of Roman life.

message 4: by Henry (new) - added it

Henry Avila St.Augustine's Confessions ,also.The dying Roman Empire.

message 5: by Traveller (new)

Traveller I love that your reviews are so succinct yet informative and engaging!

Bill  Kerwin Thanks! I appreciate you kind words!

message 7: by Martin (new)

Martin Lovely review Bill.

Pity we don't see more of you in shakespearefans!

Bill  Kerwin Thanks for the good word. I'm sure I'll pop in from time to time. I've been busy lately, grading exams.

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