First published in serial form as Der Golem in the periodical Die weissen Blätter in –14, The Golem is a haunting Gothic tale of stolen identity and. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Geboren am in Wien, gestorben am in Starnberg. M., der “Bürgerschreck von Prag”, wandte sich dem. This item:The Golem (Dedalus European Classics) by Gustav Meyrink . Der Golem is an interesting, cleverly written and surrealistic story that has had some.

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Gustav Meyrink ‘s The Golemwhich is celebrating its centenary, is one of the most absorbing, atmospheric and mind-boggling slices of fantasy ever committed to print. Part dream-like expressionist melodrama, part creepy horror, part eerie evocation of the magical city of Prague and its shadow-haunted ghetto, The Golem occupies a singular niche in fantastika.

And it is hard to re-read without placing the narrative against the clouds of war which were gathering over Europe during the book’s initial serial publication. For the duration of its first publication in serial form from Decemberthe political manoeuvring that led to the Great War was rumbling along in the background of European life. When the final instalment of The Golem was published in Augustwar had just broken out.

Meyrink’s The Golem: where fact and fiction collide

Meyrink began writing it inso The Golem cannot really be read as an allegory for the first world war. But as its main character, Athanasius Pernath, a gem-engraver living in the Jewish ghetto, is plunged from one nightmarish scenario to another at the behest of shadowy powers, unknowable bureaucracy and individuals with covert agendas: The Golem begins with an unnamed narrator who is unsettled by bizarre dreams and seems disjointed from his existence in the Jewish ghetto of Prague.


He tries on a mysterious hat belonging to one Athanasius Pernath and is plunged into Pernath’s story, and head. There follow a series of encounters, some confusing, some macabre, some frightening. Not all of it makes sense as Meyrink’s dreamlike prose weaves around the citry’s narrow cobbled streets, with Pernath attracting grotesques as a candle flame does moths. Pernath seems to have no memory of his earlier life, and drifts through the ghetto becoming embroiled in plots and patterns over which he has no control.

The plot is slight and often nonsensical, with diversions into philosophy and mysticism which only enhance Pernath’s sense of dislocation.

Born in Vienna inMeyrink spent 20 years as a bank director in Prague. He suffered a nervous breakdown meyriniattempting suicide, and became obsessed by occultism, alchemy, Kabbalah and eastern mysticism.

Following rumours that he was meyrnk the bank’s affairs “according to spirit guidance”, Meyrink was accused of fraud and imprisoned for two-and-a-half months. He also fought, at this time, a series of duels with officers from a Prague army regiment.

Der Golem by Gustav Meyrink – Free Ebook

Although Meyrink’s Golem is part of a long line of Ded golem stories which begins with Rabbi Loew in the 16th century, the legend of the ddr goes back to Biblical times, the word appearing in Psalms to mean an “unshaped form” in God’s eyes. According to the Talmud, Adam was the original golem, created from mud and “kneaded into a shapeless husk”.

The myth of the golem was prevalent in the Middle Ages, and Jakob Grimm of the fairytale brothers fame also wrote on deer.

In Meyrink’s hands, the Golem becomes a strange recurring presence, a being which manifests in Prague every 33 years. It appears with the face of Pernath, a doppelganger who adds to the increasingly unreal quality of the story.


There is the sensation of secret machinations in the darkness; of being watched by persons unknown and for reasons unknowable. Events are being directed and shaped by powers beyond our perception.

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Pernath is accused of murder and is released from incarceration into a ghetto that he finds unrecognisable, just as the final instalment of The Golem was published in a world that had irrevocably changed due to the outbreak of war.

The Golem had a magnificent reception, and the collected volume published in soldcopies. All have been published in English by Dedalus Books since the mids, and Mike Mitchell’s excellent translations are definitely worth seeking out. Meyrink was, of course, a contemporary of Kafka, and his novels have a lot in common with Prague’s better-known fantasist.

According to Mitchell, Meyrink was approached by the German government in asking him to write a novel blaming the Freemasons for the start of the war, but refused — apparently because of pressure from the Freemasons themselves. Meyrink died in Decembersix months after his son committed suicide at the age of 24 — the same age that Meyrink himself had attempted to end his own life.

A century after its first publication, The Golem endures as a piece of modernist fantasy that deserves to take its place alongside Kafka, from an author whose life was almost as fantastic as his fiction. Topics Fiction Books blog. Horror books Franz Kafka blogposts.

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