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The Golden Ass: The Transformations of Lucius [Paperback]

4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
BUSINESS once took me to Thessaly, where my mother's family originated; I have, by the way, the distinction of being descended through her from the famous Plutarch. Read the first page
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4.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic four-footed fable. April 24 2001
I thought only cats were supposed to have nine lives, but this donkey has at least that many. This book is great fun, I couldn't put it down for too long, and it is incredible that something written so long ago (18 centuries?) can be so accessible, captivating, and hilarious to a modern reader. The events in The Golden Ass resemble the ribald, bawdy exuberance of the Decameron, and no doubt Boccaccio was somewhat inspired by the writings of Apuleius. According to the introduction, the adjective "golden" in the title implies "the ass par excellence" or "the best of all stories about an ass." The story follows the misadventures of Lucius, an enterprising young man who gets far too close to the world of magic, is transformed into a donkey and is constantly thwarted in his attempt to procure the antidote to his assness. It's human mind trapped in donkey bawdy! Totally imaginative, classically written, hilarious fun. As a writer, Apuleius was MILLENNIUMS ahead of his time! (Note: my review is based on the Robert Graves translation, rather than the William Adlington).
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5.0 out of 5 stars the first novel? May 23 2000
The most shocking thing about this book is how un-unusual it is. All the cliches, jokes, etc., which one takes for granted, are here centuries ago and unchanged by time. Reading it is stepping back in time and realizing that 2000 years is nothing--for there has been little or no change in our collective sensibilities and desires. Beyond its offer of the eternal human, if that were not enough, here is the only printed evidence of initiation into a Mystery Cult--very important in itself, for scholars anyway. But what is most enlightening is the revelation that all that you read you have heard before. These stories are somehow part of Western tradition, or perhaps all human traditions. Eg., the hen-pecked husband, the cuckhold, etc. Like the film Citizen Cain, one is often un-struck by it because all of its techniques have been adopted, and so it is rather dull; there is nothing in it we have not seen as we have adopted all its devices (or what it was, is now what is). Try as some of us might, this book is evidence that we have not changed--and this is not fodder for conservatives, nor for liberals (nor for radicals); all can be disheartened and gladdened, and all can learn what human stuff is made of through its perusal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best translation--quite humorous Dec 31 1996
By A Customer
I've read another translation which gives no sense of the
humor in this most amusing, and sometimes ribald tale of a
man's transformation (literally and figuratively) from man
to animal.

Dabbling in occult matters, the young man is tranformed into
an ass. He recounts the many adventures that he has while in
this state, from circus performer to beast of burden where
he hears the story of Cupid and Psyche (the most extant
version we have.) Eventually our hero is returned to a manly
state (I don't want to give too much away) with the help of
a mysterious female figure.
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