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.



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

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