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The Golem (Dover Mystery, Detective, & Other Fiction) Paperback – December 1, 1985

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)

About the Author

Gustav Meyrink (I868-1932) found worldwide critical and commercial acclaim with his first novel The Golem (I9I5), which prior to the Dedalus Meyrink programme has been the only work available in English. It established his reputation as the master of the occult and the grotesque.(He was the German translator of Dickens). His reputation declined in his last years but his work is now being reassessed in Germany & Austria, and he is now considered as one of the most important German language novelists of the 20th century . Dedalus is part of the European-wide movement championing Meyrink's work. A new translation of The Golem was published by Dedalus in 1995, and the first English translations of The Green Face; Walpurgisnacht, The Angel of the West Window, The White Dominican, The Opal (and other stories), were published by Dedalus during 1991-94 making all of Meyrink's major work available in English. In 2008 Dedalus published the first English language biography of Gustav Meyrink, Vivo: The Life of Gustav Meyrink by Mike Michell. In 2010 Dedalus will publish a further collection of Meyrink's short stories.

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Mystery, Detective, & Other Fiction
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (December 1, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486250253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486250250
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Gustav Meyrink's first novel, "The Golem," is without a doubt his masterwork. Certainly it presents his central concerns and the mystical pattern for his later writing, but even more, the literary elements of "The Golem" carry a double measure of inspiration. Perhaps the most obvious is the hypnagogia (the state of consciousness between waking and sleeping) through which the narrator drifts in the first three chapters. Such surreal episodes are not uncommon in fiction, but often even the most earnest attempts fail. Meyrink, however, telegraphs the thrill of this state as only a genuine mystic could. His narrative floats tangentially from one idea to the next, travelling in a rough spiral, lingering at times in the natural orbit of certain images and thoughts. It is only upon finishing the novel that one realizes how these chapters establish not only the mood of the story, but also its themes and plot.

The golem itself--a creature whose legend is rooted in Prague's Ghetto, the depressed Jewish quarter--has a special magic. Though the golem might easily have been portrayed with an uninspired knockoff of Frankenstein's monster, Meyrink made it a spiritual creature (a prototype for similar entities in his later work). In fact, the golem seems to exist solely in the realm of possibility, a thing of story, memory, and confused dreams.

The novel's narrator, Pernath, is a fractured personality whose inner turmoil manifests in his strong attraction to three different women and in his literal amnesia--his memory extends only a few years back, to the time since he came to live in the Ghetto.
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Format: Paperback
Most people know Franz Kafka, but very few have heard of, and still less have read, his Prague contemporary Gustav Meyrink. This book is his masterwork, a brooding paranoid fantasy based on the Jewish Cabbalist legends of the clay automaton, the Golem. However the Golem in this story is simply a symbolic device which sets the backdrop for a tale of madness, obsession and the decay of a whole city and its inhabitants. The whole ensmble is made more poignant by the sad life of its creator- Meyrink was in life a paranoiac who lived his life in fear and spent much time in asylums. This is one of the books of the twentieth century, its dark imaginings foreshadowing much of what was to come in the 1930's and '40's.
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Format: Paperback
Taking the legend of the Golem, the artificial man who was created by the use of the Kaballah magic power, a legend from the times of rabbi Low, contemporary of the emperor of Germany Rudolph II, Meyrink goes beyong this legend to envelope the reader in a complex atmosphere, the atmosphere of the Jewish quarter of Prague, sinister, sombre, gloomy, just like Kafka's novels. The novel, like all Meyrink's novels, is expressionist to the bottom, the characters are distorted, weird, sinister, or else with a sense of unreality about them, although some of them, like Charoussek the student, Hillel and his daughter Miriam, deeply moving.
As every novel by Meyrink, "The Golem" is very complex and has difficult concealed meanings, full of symbols which are related to the unconscious. It isn't by chance that Meyrink's novels found the enthusiasm of Jung. The novel, thus, can be seen as a wandering through the mind of the main character, Athanasius Pernath, a particular "saison en enfer" descending to the labyrinth of Pernath's unconscious.
However, the novel can also be interpreted from an esoterical point of view, the ancient Eastern doctrine of the Upanishads, the reincarnation, the nature of soul, life and suffering.
It also presents the theme of the "double", a recurrent theme in Literature like, for instance, in Edgar A. Poe's "William Wilson".
What is crucial is that none of Gustav Meyrink's novels can be interpreted literally, because their meanings are hidden, more concerning myth than plain reality. I don't think that "The Golem" should be seen just as a horror or a mystery novel, because it is profoundly esoterical, mystic and onirical. Its meanings are only to be found in the kind of meanings that dreams provide.
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Format: Paperback
THE GOLEM by Gustav Meyrink is a pretty strange novel. I picked it up once before and couldn't get into it. This time I was more prepared and stuck with it. It was written and published as a serial in 1913-14, and I bought it because it was about characters in Prague by a Prague writer. (Ironically, Meyrink and Kafka both knew Max Brod.)

The story of the Golem of Prague is what drew me to the title, which I bought in an English-language bookstore while I lived in Prague. The legend is that Rabbi Loew, in the Jewish quarter in the sixteenth century, created a man out of mud from the Vltava River (the Moldau) and gave him life by putting Hebrew characters on a paper in the man's mouth, or by writing EMETH (truth) on the golem's brow, and taking that life away by erasing the first later, leaving METH (death). He used him to labor in the synagogue, and in some stories the golem protects the Jews from murderous pogroms. Sometimes the golem breaks free or is forgotten and violence is rained down on his community. In Prague, I used to hear the legend that the body of the golem was still kept in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue in the Jewish quarter.

But this book isn't that much about the golem, and is more about a single man, Anthanasius Pernath, a gentile who lives in the Jewish Quarter in Prague at the end of the 19th century. He is an engraver of precious stones, and has many odd and paranormal experiences in the quarter, as he narrates about the people he knows there. One of the events is that the golem brings him a mysterious book. In another incident, he follows a winding staircase through the Quarter and finds himself in a room with the golem's clothing. There is intrigue, crime, mystery and, many, many odd, seemingly unexplainable incidents that occur.
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