Review of The Golem

The Golem - Gustav Meyrink, Robert Irwin, Mike Mitchell

I'm a big fan of Meyrink's work, because I love novels that one can read many times and still find something new and inspiring to focus on. I found Golem to be so atmospheric that I felt as if I was there in the old Jewish Town, feeling the claustrophobic melancholy of the place, seeing the variety of people who lived there, hearing the old medieval houses whispering their ancient secrets, absorbing the mystery of the stones. I was born in Prague and grew up in the city, but the Jewish Town (also called the Fifth Quarter) was destroyed at the end of 19th century and so the picturesque mystical part of Prague survived only in memories, paintings and in its very basis, the cellars underground. Though most of the houses were torn down, the magic perseveres and one can imagine that it lured Meyrink to write such a story. Also, the mystery of Golem and the House by the Last Lantern in the Golden Lane are intriguingly inspiring. I found the idea of the main hero experiencing a life of an artist who lived in the Jewish Town and most probably later moved to another dimension of Prague very interesting. I was unaware of the terms ibbur or dybbuk and found that this story explained it for me. And so while some of the characters appear to be haunted by some lost spirit (Golem?), the main hero experiences an attachment to a soul that teaches him something of great value. Perhaps Meyrink himself felt that Athanasius Pernath was his ibbur for awhile and by thinking what he was thinking and feeling what he was feeling, he was able to make his life-story real. Meyrink's writing style, his language and the construction of sentences are so poetic! I think this is a book to return to from time to time, as it stays inscribed inside one's heart.