Friday, March 07, 2003

Apuleius and "The Golden Ass"

Dr. Fears also spent an entire lecture on Apuleius and his literary work "The Golden Ass". I had never read this work either so I was researching it and found the following link that is an extensive examination of the novel.

Dr. Fears mentioned that the work influenced such literary classics as "Don Quixote" and "Gullivers Travels". The web page author, Benjamin Slade, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University, recognizes its influence in even more modern work:

"In more modern literature, the little known, but very important work of Anglo-Indian novelist G.V. Desani's All About H. Hatterr also carries on Apuleius's mad, bathetic style of story-weaving. More well-known Booker-Award winning Anglo-Indian author Salman Rushdie too writes very much in the Apuleian style--both in the sense of bathos as well as adapting Apuleius's particular manner of interweaving 'mirroring' stories together (see below). In addition to style, an episode in Rushdie's (in)famous novel, The Satanic Verses, displays a thematic borrowing, in that it involves a transformation of the protagonist into bestial form and his subsequent attempts to regain human form--serving as the central intertext of Satanic Verses, in the words of Dr. Margareta Petersson.

The shape-changing theme also occurs in Kafka's Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis). This theme, while obviously ubiquitous in human imagination, is unusual in Apuleius in that a first-person narrative is provided by the metamorphed man, as in Kafka. Kafkas novel owes something to the Golden Ass in its plot of an ordinary person who one day suddenly finds himself in a shape not his own--a repulsive shape; and in the protagonists struggle to survive with his humanity intact."