Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Review: The Golden Ass

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.

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