Bill Kerwin's Reviews > The Golden Ass

The Golden Ass by Apuleius
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's review
Jun 15, 2016

it was amazing
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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01/29 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 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

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.

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.

message 9: by Axolotl (new) - added it

Axolotl Where do you work Bill? If you don't mind my asking?

message 10: by Bill (last edited Aug 30, 2015 10:36PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill  Kerwin I don't work--unless you count singing lead on occasion with a blues/swing band. I retired last year after 34 years of teaching high school English in the Columbus Catholic Diocese.

how about you?

message 11: by Alan (new)

Alan I recall a few pp of this in Latin--not easy, maybe a bit colloquial. Then G Bruno wrote a couple books on asini.

message 12: by Topher (new) - added it

Topher Sounds incredible, what a review!

message 13: by W.T. (new) - added it

W.T. Shad The content of your reviews are always very well loaded. Very concise and always pack a punch. Thanks for the review bill.

message 14: by W.T. (new) - added it

W.T. Shad Traveller wrote: "I love that your reviews are so succinct yet informative and engaging!"

Definitely, they say the absolute most with the fewest words possible.

Bill  Kerwin W.T. wrote: "Traveller wrote: "I love that your reviews are so succinct yet informative and engaging!"

Definitely, they say the absolute most with the fewest words possible."

Thank you. That is a great compliment!

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