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The Golden Ass

Peter Singer, University Center for Human Values; Ellen Finkelpearl, Scripps College

October 26, 2022 · 6:00 pm7:30 pm · Labyrinth Books and Livestream

Labyrinth Books; Humanities Council

“Think of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, throw in generous helpings of humor, sex, and magic, and you might get a rough idea of what The Golden Ass is like.” —Peter Singer

Peter Singer and Ellen Finkelpearl breathe new life into Apuleius’s hilarious, bawdy tale and one of the earliest novels—accentuating its remarkable empathy for animals.

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Singer, the world-renowned philosopher and author of Animal Liberation, was initially drawn to The Golden Ass because of its early portrayal of the life of an abused animal. He was soon stunned to discover that what is arguably the first surviving novel is now little known and even less read. Realizing that Apuleius’s tale in its original form is far too complex, Singer decided to streamline it. Assisted by Apuleius scholar Ellen Finkelpearl—who provides a fresh, modern translation, expertly mirroring the florid style of the original—Singer deftly prunes away the many digressions from the main narrative, and in so doing, uncovers the still-beating heart of the text: the highs and lows in the life of an ass, as seen and experienced by the irrepressible Lucius.

Peter Singer is Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He is best known for Animal Liberation, first published in 1975 and widely considered to be the founding statement of the animal rights movement; and for The Life You Can Save, which led him to found the charity of the same name. His other books include Practical Ethics and The Most Good You Can Do. In 2005, Time magazine named him one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People. Ellen Finkelpearl is Professor of Ancient Studies at Scripps College, and a scholar of Apuleius.

This event is co-sponsored by Princeton University’s Humanities Council.

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