Page 9

INTRODUCTION

This celebrated novel by Apuleius of Madaura1 has always been the object of contradictory evaluations. There are, we think, many different reasons for this: some are inherent in the composition and the sources of the work itself, while others come from the personality of the author. This Latin text from the second century A.D. has baffled commentators, for it seems to have been written according to two plans. It tells one main story, that of Lucius and his transformations, interspersed with a number of tales which, from a purely rational and superficial point of view, do not appear to have much in common with the adventures of the hero. What we know of the novel’s background explains and confirms this impression of duality, for it is not an entirely personal creation. The author was inspired by a lost text attributed to Lucius of Patrai, and the text itself was taken from a destroyed original Greek text that had also served as a model for The Ass, a novel written by a pseudo-Lucian. There was thus a collection of novels by various authors which later disappeared and which are thought to have been in the style of Boccaccio’s Decameron or Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. All these earlier collections contained neither the tale of Amor and Psyche nor the initiation into the Isis mysteries that are so important in Apuleius’s book.2 Apuleius has not only added two significant passages but has probably also transformed, at least partially, the original stories to adapt them to their new context. In spite of using many older stories, Apuleius has actually created a completely new book with a completely new inner message. From a literary standpoint, one will notice that the work is complicated by its affected style and its many plays on words. Knowing nothing of its cultural background, one would think its language to be that of a neurotic, but it simply corresponds to the so-called Milesian style, which Apuleius probably acquired in the course of his studies.3 In its content the book shows

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Advertisement