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The Golem

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  5,242 ratings  ·  346 reviews
First published in serial form as Der Golem in the periodical Die weissen Blätter in 1913–14, 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 artist.

Lurking in its
Paperback, 264 pages
Published June 28th 2000 by Dedalus (first published 1915)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Bill Kerwin
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it

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
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
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 with.

”I hoped they would change their shape as I looked at them, allowing me to
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chained-books
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 ...more
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Hello. My name is Greg and this is my review for:

I should first warn anyone reading this review that I suck at reading and you'd probably be better off reading reviews written by people who don't suck at reading. I only discovered my reading suckness last week, so I shamefully apologize for anyone who has read any of my six hundred and eight other reviews and thought they were reading a review written by someone who didn't suck. This review is probably a much more informative review than mine:

Vit Babenco
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Rabbi Löw, well versed in all of the arts and sciences, especially in the Kabbalah, had fashioned for himself one such servant out of clay, placed in his mouth the magic formula, and thereby brought him to life”.
Such is the legend. But Golem of Gustav Meyrink is a creature that comes in dreams.
“It is the narrow, hidden tracks that lead back to our lost homeland, what contains the solution to the last mysteries is not the ugly scar that life's rasp leaves on us, but the fine, almost invisible
The Golem is a high-brow literary thriller. Very readable, even re-readable. Here's what the great Jorge Luis Borges wrote about it in 1936: "...An extraordinarily visual book that enchantingly combines mythology, eroticism, tourism, the 'local color' of Prague, prophetic dreams, dreams of past or future lives, and even reality." A "wonderful book." This quote is from a brief review of Meyrink's The Angel of the Western Window, about which Borges was far less enthusiastic. See Jorge Luis Borges, ...more

A very good and memorable Gothic tale, that is only loosely based on the original 16th-century Golem of Prague narrative, although this one's also set in Prague (at the present time of publication, 1915 or some 33 years earlier). If you're not put off by mysticism–Jewish and otherwise–I recommend you check it out. It definitely has literary value! I'd put it somewhere in the vicinity of Poe and Kafka, with a little Lovecraft in the mix. It's a quick read, and the ending is, although not entirely
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you don't like this book then you probably suck at reading.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, mist
Gustav Meyrink's unique infusion of Kabbalism and the Wandering Jew mythos into the Golem legend can get murky at times, but in light of the author's own divided spiritual pursuits it makes sense that clarity remains elusive. As an early fictional reflection of this restless search for inner truth, the book is not as evenly developed as Meyrink's later occult tour de force The Angel of the West Window. Thus, this novel is at times episodic in nature (it was originally published in serial form), ...more
Simona Bartolotta
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: in-italian, 1900

“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
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A golem is not the Gollum of Tolkien lore. I say this because I already had to explain this to someone at work who got super excited because he did not know a book about Gollum had been written separately. Sigh.

A golem is an animate being made from inanimate substances, often like mud, etc. and the stories hail from early Judaism. The most common concept is that the Hebrew word for truth (Emet) written on a piece of paper is placed on the Golem's head, or in the mouth, which then brings the
Iva Kenaz
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: new-age-fiction
Review of The Golem 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 ...more
Ann Schwader
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, classics
This “review” is more in the nature of a few comments on my first-time reading experience. I am frankly not qualified to discuss German language literature – even in what I’m told is an excellent translation. I know little about Gustav Meyrink, beyond a couple of biographical articles, and I’ve never read anything by him before.

That said, I’ve just had a truly mind-bending excursion through the Jewish ghetto of pre-WW I Prague. The atmosphere is pure Gothic. The narrator is thoroughly
Jun 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another Borges recommendation. The guy just cannot steer you wrong!

This is one of those wandering, paranoid hallucinations -- the plot is largely unnecessary, in a good way. An exemplar of the novel as a more experiential form than anything else. The prose stimulates all five senses constantly, and there is an almost allegorical thing going on that successfully resists understanding but provokes intense curiosity.

I read it in three bursts separated by long stretches of time, and felt that the
aPriL does feral sometimes

‘The Golem’ by Gustav Meyrink, is an early 20th-century literary gothic (published in 1915). However, instead of the horror or monster drama that we, gentle reader, may be expecting, he explores the meaning of identity, mystically speaking, in the form of a highbrow 19th-century book written in the style of a psychological gothic of the time.

The word golem is a word used once in the Bible, specifically in Psalm 139:16, although we English speakers never see it because of translation issues. The
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is strikingly modern in it's ambiguity. We question who the protagonist is, when the action is taking place, and most importantly what is real and what is imagined. The impact and horror of a mythic character, in this case the Golem, is made more effective by the sensation that suggests we are inside a person's mind.

The mind we inhabit is, however, perceptibly imbalanced. It senses the grotesque, the horrific and ugly most readily but strives to discern eternal truths of beauty
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Golem takes place in the Jewish Ghetto in Prague two centuries ago. The story traces the life of a jeweler, Athanasius Pernath. Everything that happens is through the filter of his minds' lens. He feels as though he is being spiritually kidnapped by someone or something that is taking over his body and making him perform deeds against his will.

Naturally his friends think he is crazy and he becomes very ill. There are different characters, who enter into his life, usually coming to his
Jan 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Golem, said to have been created by the Rabbi Loew for the protection of the Ghetto in Prague, is a mysterious figure that apparently takes many forms, reminiscent in some ways of Leo Perutz’s Marquis of Bolibar.

Gustav Meyrink’s novel THE GOLEM, set in the turn-of-the-20th-century Prague Ghetto, revolves around the main character and narrator, Athanasius Pernath, who is searching for his identity. His memory of his own past has been blocked, and he is seeking both memory of that past and the
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can barely find the right words for the feelings i have for this book. You have to read this one really carefully but you will be well rewarded if you do so. Meyrink makes heavy use of symbolism and foreshadowing, and often makes references to characters, symbols and events which happened earlier in the book. One of the most enjoyable things for me is reading a story where the autor starts to blend the inner feelings of a character and his surroundings, the structures like buildings but also ...more
Yet another book I knew I was going to enjoy, like Alfred Kubin's The Other Side, The Golem conjures up a fantastic atmosphere. Now it's time to watch the 1920 movie adaptation.

"The well-padded door swung to with a sigh behind me as I entered the Cathedral and stood in the darkness of the side aisle. The nave was filled with the green and blue shimmer of the dying light slanting down through the stained-glass windows onto the pews; at the far end, the altar gleamed at me in a frozen cascade of
Czarny Pies
Oct 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who liked la Rue des boutiques obscures
Recommended to Czarny by: I discovered it by performing kabbalistic number permutations on the name of my cat
Shelves: german-lit, czech-lit
This story is about a Jewish resident of the Prague Ghetto who has lost his memory and his trouble reconstituting his past. As such it is a perfect companion piece to La rue des boutiques obscures by this year's Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano which also deals with a Jew fighting to suppressmemories.
Oct 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent novel, full of surreal imagery from fin-de-sciècle Jewish Prague. Though the plot is engaging and mysterious, the book's main assets are the esoteric imagery and oneiric flow. Recommended if you're looking for something Kafkaesque and mystic.
Sep 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
I didn't really know what to expect before reading this and afterwards it is quite hard to talk about.

Initially I think it was quite hard to get into, being introduced with new characters with each new chapter and the somewhat disjointed feel from chapter to chapter. But after a while one gets into the flow and embroiled in the story.

Looking back, it doesn't really feel like a horror story as such, although it definitely fits into the category of a weird tale with it's strange occurrences,
Ηφαιστίων Χριστόπουλος
Nothing really happens in the story, one cannot even be certain the Golem appears, but the atmosphere in this one is beyond description.
Nicki Markus
Dec 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an intriguing piece of fiction that takes you into a claustrophobic world, reminiscent of the works of Meyrink's contemporary, Kakfa. Like Kafka, Meyrink offers us an intriguing glimpse of life in the backstreets of Prague, most notably the Jewish Quarter, and there are certainly some parallels with Kakfa's The Trial towards the end of the book.

The story follows a man who, having put on another's hat, finds himself transported into that man's mind, making this other man the protagonist.
Juan del Desierto
'Der Golem' is the masterpiece of Gustav Meyrink in literary terms. Some other novels by him are more clear in their meaning, but this is one unparaleled in onirism and symbolism.

The vivid descriptions of the Prague ghetto and the weird atmosphere that surrounds it and its dwellers will crawl under your skin and invade your imagination. Or maybe it will bore you to no end if you expect a horror tale with stale monsters and scary, hollywood-like moments, because there are none.

A must-read for
I can honestly say I still don't know what was real and what was not. The first scene was breathtaking and all other dreamy scenes following it were equally fantastic. Dreams, hopes, mythology and a hint of reality mixed together with a dash of creepiness.
Miriam Cihodariu
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed finally encountering a character named Miriam (like myself) in a book, without her being: a) episodic and insignificant; b) someone's old mother; c) a nun; d) a prostitute (not that there's anything wrong with any of the options above). :)
May 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable read. I will have to read it again in the future, as it left me a little confused and asking a few questions (in a good way), but beautifully written with a genuinely likable character. had my heart thumping a few times.
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The illegitimate child of a baron and an actress, Meyrinck spent his childhood in Germany, then moving to today's Czech Republic where he lived for 20 years. The city of Prague is present in most of his work along with various religious, occult and fantastic themes. Meyrinck practiced yoga all his life.

Curious facts:

He unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide at the age of 24. His son committed
“It is the narrow, hidden tracks that lead back to our lost homeland, what contains the solution to the last mysteries is not the ugly scar that life's rasp leaves on us, but the fine, almost invisible writing that is engraved on our body.” 19 likes
“I have not let myself be stultified by science, whose highest goal is to furnish a `waiting room', which it would be best to tear down.” 11 likes
More quotes…