The Golden Ass of Lucius Apuleius

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Adults who are familiar with the ancient tale "The Golden Ass" may be slightly alarmed that it is now being marketed to children, but fear not! The violent, bawdy adventures have been toned down in this adaptation, and the result is quite enjoyable. In this version, Lucius is a business traveler in ancient Greece who meets up with a boy and his tutor. The boy begins spinning tales about being magically transformed into a donkey and his adventures while so changed. He fell in with a band of thieves, rescued a princess, was sold to a troupe of priests, was forced to work in a mill, got captured by a Roman soldier, became an actor, and finally was turned back into a human by the goddess Isis. This slender volume concludes with an afterword by Usher about the original work and the ways in which he varied his version. While the bookending chapters with Lucius are a bit stilted and awkward, the tales themselves are funny and imaginatively over-the-top. Motley's pen-and-ink illustrations are terrifically detailed and cartoonlike and are reminiscent of John Tenniel's work in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The violence and sex have been softened, but the goofiness and sense of adventure are still here, making this book perfect for humor-loving middle schoolers.—Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
A faithful (if relatively clean) version of the world's oldest surviving complete novel, written "for librarians, teachers, scholars, and extremely intelligent children," according to the afterword. Usher (Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates, 2005) frames his adaptation as a tale within a tale in which the author meets two travelers on the road. He listens as one describes how he was transformed into an ass by reckless use of a stolen magical ointment, is mistreated in turn by robbers, "eunuch priests" (homosexual con men, in the original) and other rough handlers--then transformed at long last into a human boy by the goddess Isis. Though all of the sex and most of the dissolute behavior has been excised, the lad's first transformation is milked throughout for double entendres--"Oh no!" gasps a witness. "You've made an ass of yourself!"--and there are plenty of silly incidents and names (silly in Latin, anyway, like a dopey Centurion dubbed Decius Verissimus Stultus) to lighten the overall tone. Motley's elaborate illustrated initials and pen-and-ink drawings add satiric bite ("Eat roses from my bosom," intones Isis mystically, floating over awed worshipers like a divine Vanna White) and further comic elements. So thoroughly reworked that even the original's most famous imbedded story, "Cupid and Psyche," is relegated to an appendix, this nonetheless conveys a clear sense of Apuleius' plot, language and major themes. An entertaining romp, even without the raunchy bits. (afterword) (Classic. 11-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567924183
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/31/2011
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 960L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.53 (d)

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