The Paris Review

Memoirs of an Ass: Part 2

A recap for those who missed part 1 (which is available here):

Second century A.D., a strange and gigantically influential Latin text was written and passed around: Apuleius’s The Golden Ass. It’s a kind of first-person picaresque romance, ’bout two hundred pages long, where a guy, “Lucius,” is just too darn curious about magic and winds up transformed into a hee-hawing, much-listening donkey for most of the book. He has various adventures, he overhears a couple dozen stories, and at the end he becomes a human being again.

The book is ramjam with sneaky-pete authorial maneuvers. Apuleius teases; he tips the wink; he lets you in on the joke; he locks you out. That, and the fact that there are dirty parts, has ensured the work’s continuing vitality for eighteen hundred years—’specially since the Renaissance. I, Anthony Madrid, am obsessed with this book.

What follows is a jumble of short entries, notebook-like, to help whip up interest in the thing. There are a lot of people out there in Paris Review land who would love it if they would only give it a try.

*

1)

I just mentioned   has been ’specially popular since the Renaissance. That’s ’cuz of printing. Before the 1460s, it was hell to get your hands on a copy. Look at Boccaccio. He liked the book so much he personally copied the entire thing out so he could have it in his

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Paris Review

The Paris Review8 min read
Re-Covered: A Blisteringly Honest Lesbian Suicide Memoir
In her monthly column Re-Covered, Lucy Scholes exhumes the out-of-print and forgotten books that shouldn’t be. Photo: Lucy Scholes In April 1962, after a day of sailing in Dorset, the fifty-year-old English writer and teacher Rosemary Manning got int
The Paris Review3 min read
Redux: In Memoriam, Susannah Hunnewell
Susannah Hunnewell in 2017, at the magazine’s Spring Revel. Courtesy of The Paris Review. The Paris Review is mourning the loss of our publisher and friend, Susannah Hunnewell. Over the course of her long affiliation with the magazine—she began as an
The Paris Review6 min read
Sorry, Peter Pan, We’re Over You
Sabrina Orah Mark’s monthly column, Happily, focuses on fairy tales and motherhood. On the day before Halloween, my son’s teacher tells me, with the seriousness of a funeral director, that Noah has decided he does not want to be Peter Pan after all.