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The Golem (Dover Mystery, Detective, & Other Fiction) Paperback – December 1, 1985
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Recently, to my great surprise, my seven-year-old nephew asked me if golems were real. At first I thought he was referring to the J.R.R. Read morePublished on July 31, 2013 by William Lee
The novel seems to function like one of David Lynch's trippier films (Inland Empire or Eraserhead) where the real world, dreams, and ineffable transcendent experiences are mixed... Read morePublished on September 4, 2010 by Andrew E. Mendelson
"The Golem" is a hard novel to describe. It's a very complex novel and one that is beyond the scope of a review here. Read morePublished on July 10, 2007 by J. Givens
I have recently finished reading The Golem and I must say I am very impressed with it. It took me three starts to finally read the novel, it became difficult because of it's dream... Read morePublished on January 13, 2003
The Golem, although creatively written, was a disappointment in one area inparticular. The book kept me reading, enticing me with suspense and interesting characters but the ending... Read morePublished on July 31, 2001 by Charles Tozer
This is one of those works that happen to come your way out of pure accident. I remember I was looking for a completely different book when I suddenly found this one on the floor... Read morePublished on April 12, 2001 by A. Tamez Elizondo
This is a very atmospheric novel set in Prague. The Golem itself does not actually appear, but serves as a symbol that heightens the overall ambience and mystery of the story. Read morePublished on June 10, 1998