This is one of my favorite books--it's a wild and hilarious fantasy that plumbs the depths and ascends the heights of humanity. The hero, Lucius, is transformed into a donkey and mingles with robbers, murderers, prostitutes, ghosts, witches, a guy with a golden nose, lovers, priests, and gods. He witnesses the whole mess of late-Roman life, from street violence and sexual degradation to the wistfulness of love and spiritual transcendence. As Oscar Wilde put it, "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." It's a sort of ribald Romana Commedia. And it's also the source of the profound and lovely tale of Cupid and Psyche, a lyrical story of symbolic love. I made a series of illustrations to this book after reading it--you can see them here.
Made it to a figure drawing session last night! I haven't been in years, and intend to go back often to improve my drawing skills.
Hopefully these will become decent as time goes on, but it was nice to get back to fundamentals.
One of the greatest masterpieces of literature, reading this was an incredible experience. Poignant, funny, metaphysical, tragic, allegorical, psychologically profound, and highly entertaining, it bridges the worlds of heaven and earth, dreams and "reality," and is a truly astonishing achievement. Reading does not get any better than this--it really is up there with Don Quixote, The Divine Comedy, War and Peace, Shakespeare, and anything else you might name. As one Western scholar on the work noted, to "appreciate its position in Chinese culture, we must imagine a work with the critical cachet ofJames Joyce's Ulysses with the popular appeal of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind – and twice as long as the two combined"...There is an excellent review here (http://www.complete-review.com...) if you are interested (it's listed in an alternate translation as "Story of the Stone").