Thursday, January 30, 2014

Anniversary of Gustav Meyrink's "The Golem"

One hundred years ago, Gustav Meyrink began serialized publication of his fantasy novel The Golem. I haven't read it, but I've seen a very bizarre film based on it.

Both the novel and, briefly, the film are discussed in today's Guardian,in an article titled "Meyrink's The Golem: where fact and fiction collide." The author, David Barnett, calls Meyrink's book "one of the most absorbing, atmospheric and mind-boggling slices of fantasy ever committed to print." Some of the interesting material in Barnett's article:
"Although Meyrink's Golem is part of a long line of Prague golem stories which begins with Rabbi Loew in the 16th century, the legend of the golem 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 them. 
"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."