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certain Don Quixotish characteristics, with an admixture of occultism. The composition has often been criticized, since the author, instead of taking the trouble to introduce an incidental story logically, generally is content with something like, “This reminds me of a juicy story. . . .” This sort of loose composition gives one the impression of a certain abaissement du niveau mental.4 It is possible that Apuleius, being a successful writer and lecturer, composed the novel in great haste and that his unconscious had therefore a hand in composing the story, in other words, that he followed a train of associations, a chain of creative fantasies whose meaning goes much deeper than even he himself knew.5 This seems to me to explain in part the conscious-unconscious duality of the composition. This novel, as I have said, has had a considerable amount of commentary, ranging from extreme admiration to complete scorn. According to some authors, Apuleius does little more than compile a poor collection of anecdotes, already known for the most part, while the whole of the work seems to be no more than satire or frivolous amusement. It is to his credit that Karl Kerényi, who dedicated the major part of his study to the story of Amor and Psyche,6 recognized its value and religious depth. After Kerényi, Reinhold Merkelbach realized for the first time that the book as a whole has a deep religious meaning which increasingly reveals itself toward the end.7 Merkelbach, however, did not analyze the book in its entirety. One needs the key of Jungian psychology and knowledge of the unconscious in order to follow the inner process of psychic development which the author describes in his book. It then reveals itself to be a completely coherent whole. In some older translations, a good number of the work’s erotic anecdotes are omitted. Some modern versions, on the other hand, have preserved the sexual passages but have suppressed the initiation mysteries, considering them to be a useless addition that does not correspond to the spirit of the rest of the work. Erudite authors have even attempted to prove that the last book, the eleventh, the initiation into the Isis mysteries, had been added perhaps by another author or by Apuleius himself in a later part of his life.8 There we touch on the most difficult problem of the proximity of sexual passion and its accompanying spiritual, religious experience. On the one hand, many differentiated religions stress the contrast of sexuality and spirituality, as the existence of many ascetic and monastic institutions proves. On the other hand, however, the orgiastic character of numerous religious rituals proves that the deepest root of sexuality and religious ecstasy seems to

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius