Les métamorphoses ou l’asne d’or de Luce Apulée philosophe platonique, Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis (124-170 AD), trans. Jules De Montlyald, preface by Jules de Marthold, illust. [21 etchings] Martin van Maele (Charles Carrington, Librairie-Éditeur, 1905, Paris, #115/750)
6.25″ X 9.25″, xlviii+328pp, beautifully bound in three-quarter morocco over marbled boards with gilt titles and decorations on the spine, top-edge gilt, others uncut, fine condition overall, 21 full-page tipped-in B/W engravings with tissue guards and numerous in-text illustrations by Martin van Meale, red ribbon intact.
The Metamorphoses of Apuleius, which St. Augustine referred to as “The Golden Ass”, is the only Ancient Roman novel in Latin to survive in its entirety. The plot Lucius and his curiosity and insatiable desire to see and practice magic. While trying to perform a spell to transform into a bird, he is accidentally transformed into an ass. This leads to a long journey, literal and metaphorical, filled with in-set tales. He finally finds salvation through the intervention of the goddess Isis, whose cult he joins. The date of the original work is uncertain. Scholars are not sure if he wrote it in his youth or at the end of his life. He adapted the story from a Greek story written by Lucius of Patrae, however his original Greek text has long been lost.
Maurice François Alfred Martin van Miële (1863-5 – 1926), better known by his pseudonym Martin van Maële, was a French illustrator of early 20th century literature. Though he gained notoriety with his illustration for H. G. Wells in Les Premiers Hommes dans la Lune, and he worked as an illustrator for the Félix Juven’s French translations of the Sherlock Holmes series, he is now most widely renowned and mostly remembered for his erotic illustrations.
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