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Free Reading Der Golem – Wildlives.co

First Published In Serial Form As Der Golem In The Periodical Die Weissen Bl Tter In, The Golem Is A Haunting Gothic Tale Of Stolen Identity And Persecution, Set In A Strange Underworld Peopled By Fantastical Characters The Red Headed Prostitute Rosina The Junk Dealer Aaron Wassertrum Puppeteers Street Musicians And A Deaf Mute Silhouette ArtistLurking In Its Inhabitants Subconscious Is The Golem, A Creature Of Rabbinical Myth Supposedly A Manifestation Of All The Suffering Of The Ghetto, It Comes To Life EveryYears In A Room Without A Door When The Jeweller Athanasius Pernath, Suffering From Broken Dreams And Amnesia, Sees The Golem, He Realises To His Terror That The Ghostly Man Of Clay Shares His Own FaceThe Golem, Though Rarely Seen, Is Central To The Novel As A Representative Of The Ghetto S Own Spirit And Consciousness, Brought To Life By The Suffering And Misery That Its Inhabitants Have Endured Over The Centuries Perhaps The Most Memorable Figure In The Story Is The City Of Prague Itself, Recognisable Through Its Landmarks Such As The Street Of The Alchemists And The Castle 2.5 I could sense that there are things, incomprehensible things, which are yoked together and race along side by side like blind horses, not knowing where their course is taking them.And in the Ghetto a chamber, a room to which no one can find the entrance, and a shadowy being that lives there, occasionally feeling its way through the streets to sow terror and panic among men The Golem is not a book about golems, not the original one nor any other kind As a literary work, it is strongly imbued with the idiosyncrasies of its time, which makes it not exactly the ideal pick as a beach read I have read somewhere it has been described as elliptic, and as far as I m concerned, there is really no better word for it The Golem is dense with symbolism, doubles, dreams that maybe are visions that maybe are dreams, and rather than the story of a monster or the story of a man, it actually tells the story of a psyche The fascination it holds mainly has to do with its dreamlike quality, its deeply disturbing atmosphere, and the feeling that nothing of what is being told deserves your unconditional belief What this book is, is unreliable, precisely because it confronts the reader with the unbridgeable gulf separating reality, the way reality is perceived, and the powerful but ultimately fleeting words used to describe either of those things From this perspective, The Golem is scary, maybe one of the scariest things I have ever read And personally, I love me a good dose of healthy relativism from time to time, but, while recurrent symbols and patterns helped giving it some cohesion, I found this book to be far too dispersive for my tastes For the life of me, I couldn t keep myself focused, and unsurprisingly, even though I was prepared for a challenging read, this ruined it for me I experienced The Golem as a bundle of loose threads, and I certainly did not want that Still, Meyrink s debut is such an unusual piece of work, so distant from what I normally go for, that it nonetheless turned out quite an interesting experiment. Question I am thinking of an author of novels and short stories, a speaker and writer of German, who lived in a predominately Czech speaking area of the Austro Hungarian Empire in the early years of the 20th Century His works are often set in the city of Prague, a setting he fills with menace and dark surrealism He seems both attracted and repelled by Judaism, an ambiguity reflected in his themes of patriarchy and autonomy, authority and law, isolation and identity in an unjust and chaotic world Who is the writer I am thinking of Answer Franz Kafka, of course.Response No Nice try, but I was thinking of Gustav Meyrink In spite of these similarities, Kafka and Meyrink are very different Kafka s biography reveals the Modernist pattern also seen in Eliot, Pessoa, Stevens the alienated artist, a middle class product, disappears into a bureaucracy of trade, banking, or insurance, preserving his originality through a series of expressive masks Meyrink s biography, on the other hand, shows him to be less like a Modernist than like a flamboyant German Romantic of the early 19th century The bastard son of a Wurttemburg baron and a Viennese actress, he was indeed a bank worker a bank director, to be precise but he was never drab or calculatingly anonymous a survivor of nervous collapse, tuberculosis, and attempted suicide, he was a bon vivant, a fighter of duels, an unashamed devotee of the occult Perhaps this last was just too much for his staid middle class investors accused of combining spiritualist consultations with executive decisions, Meyrink was arrested for bank fraud and sent to prison for two and a half months There he suffered both physical paralysis and financial ruin he cured himself of the former through the postures of yoga and of the latter through the profession of writing With The Golem a re imagining of the old Jewish tale Meyrink s reputation became secure.Kafka s ambiguity towards Judaism derived from fear of his father and a tentative connection to his own Jewish heritage Meyrink, on the other hand, was not Jewish at all although some sources mistakenly assert his mother was It was through his occult explorations that he became fascinated with Judaism the force of the folk tales, the truth of the sayings, the splendor of the mystical writings At the same time, he seems both attracted and repelled by the exotic squalor of Prague s Jewish Quarter I detect a whiff of anti semitism here, but I also sense that Meyrink sees the Jews as representative of humanity, illuminated by the divine spirit even though debased and enmired in a fallen world It is this sense of spiritual potential in a shattered world that most dramatically distinguishes Meyrink There is little of this theme in Kafka his protagonists are modern men, vainly attempting to assert their improbable existence in the context of an absurd world Although Meyrink has much to say about the mystery of identity, his approach seemsgothic,faux medieval The Golem, a dark fairy tale, may be filled with false identities, fragmented quests, and madness disguised as transformation or is it the other way round , but throughout everything, the self and its potential for spiritual illumination never lose reality The problem is that our world is in pieces the individual no longer knows himself, for he is buried by fragments of pettiness and posing, spleen and crime Meyrink reverenced the Kabbalah, and the narrative of The Golem seems to embody the myth of the Shevirat haKeilimalthough the vessels, unable to contain the Light, have shattered, they shall be restored, in the Lord s good time Until then, their shards, reflecting the Light, help to illuminate our darkened world. I wouldn t want to be a Golem, and I wouldn t want to see one either Doing so seems to lead to a high degree of delusion Well, an unreliable narration at the very least I feel like everything the narrator says and does is questionable, and everything he says is doubtful It s impossible to say how much of this actually happened, and how much of it was in the narrator s mind Obscure density is all we are left withI hoped they would change their shape as I looked at them, allowing me to assume some optical delusion has been the cause of the fear that was paralysing me And that s exactly it At the end of the novel he appears to wake up from a dream, but, again, that in itself is highly doubtful He has spent the entirety of the process in another man s body, but the events he dreamt about apparently happened in a not so distant past So how do we identify reality and the fantastic What divides them Absolutely nothing Meyrink intertwines the two resulting in one massive headache of a novel I m just not sure what to believe The narrator could be insane this would explain the questionable nature of the events and the undertones of the macabre He could have just had one nightmarish dream and then decided to get on with his life But what if it did happen It leaves me with mind numbing questions in the same way that Kafka sTrial did Simply put, we will never have our answers.The setting of the novel is like a haunted ghetto The spirit of the citizens is bleak and morose Perrath, our protagonist, is in a real dark place He has no control over the events in his life as he descends even further into this abyss of despair He has no real sense of freedom or expression of individual will In part, this can be seen as an allegory for the First World War The people are subjugated and forced into unpleasant circumstances as the horror of death tears through Europe Certainly, there are parallels But no reading is conclusive For me, the best aspect of this story is its dream like feel I don t think an overall interpretation can be applied to the work Nothing fits it perfectly or defines it H.P Lovecraft, the man who wrote some of the strangest short stories in existence, called it weird From him, that s a rather large compliment It would have the same effect as Charlotte Bronte praising the work of a minor author for its feminist aspects So this isn t an easy book to read It is, indeed, a very weird book It should be approached with caution If you go into this expecting a linear framework you will be drastically disappointed This book has a nightmarish quality, after reading it you re not entirely sure what any of it means But that s not necessarily a bad thing This one will haunt me for a while. While the story of The Golem alone deserves four stars as Gustav Meyrink s masterpiece, the Tartarus Press edition, of which I happen to be a fortunate owner, pushes the book as artifact into the five star category This book is one of my most prized possessions, one of the books I ll reach for if the library ever catches fire Everything about it screams I defy you to find another book as cool as me From the outstanding internal artwork to the silk ribbon marker to the weight of the pages themselves, this is a book of quality workmanship through and through If I could own all of my favorite books in a Tartarus hardcover edition such as this, I might do nothing but read the rest of my life, starving to death in an easy chair under the light of a reading lamp.As several reviewers have pointed out, The Golem is obtuse It is clearly not the story of the golem as dramatized in the silent movies directed by Paul Wegener This book is much less forthright in its horror, if it can be called horrific at all I think that unsettling is aaccurate term The heavy mysticism and symbolism Meyrink employs simultaneously draws in and distances the reader, making for an uneven read that sets up a disturbing cadence in the reader s mind This can be aggravating at times, and absolutely captivating at others One always feels that there s something just around the next bend, emotionally and intellectually speaking I wonder if Meyrink didn t intend the book to read this way In this way, he is much like Kafka, but on aethereal plane, if you will Where Kafka creates unease with a sharp dose of uncaring bureaucracy, Meyrink plays hide and seek with shadows that may be interpreted as real demons or as the slow nightmare of a collective unconsciousness It is because of this openness to interpretation that one reading is really insufficient to judge the work The Golem, while not as hallucinatory as some think those who haven t read it or hope those who were looking for an early surrealist Gothic tale , is also not as incomprehensible as some reviewers complain It is not an easy read, but, like many difficult reads, it is rewarding to wander Prague s streets in search of Meyrink s elusive creature.