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LBI Book Club, Vol. XIII: The Golem by Gustav Meyrink

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Join us to read and discuss The Golem by Gustav Meyrink.

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Please note that the Zoom link to the program can be found at the bottom of your registration confirmation email. This information will also be emailed to you via Eventbrite the day before the event at 9am EDT and 30 minutes prior to the event.

First published in serial form in 1914 in the periodical Die Weißen Blätter, The Golem was published in book form in 1915 by Kurt Wolff, Leipzig. The novel centers on the life of Athanasius Pernath, a jeweler and art restorer who lives in the ghetto of Prague. But his story is experienced by an anonymous narrator, who, during a visionary dream, assumes Pernath's identity—but as he thirty years before. This dream was perhaps induced because he inadvertently swapped his hat with the real (older) Pernath's. While the novel is generally focused on Pernath's own musings and adventures, it also chronicles the lives, the characters, and the interactions of his friends and neighbors. The 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. Through the novel, the narrator's own mental health and memories come into question. If you are a fan of the dark, atmospheric works of Kafka or Poe, The Golem is likely for you!

About Gustav Meyrink

Gustav Meyrink (1868 - 1932) was the pen name of Gustav Meyer. An Austrian author, novelist, dramatist, translator, and banker, he is most famous for his novel The Golem. He has been described as the "most respected German language writer in the field of supernatural fiction". He studied theosophy, Kabbala, Christian Sophiology and Eastern mysticism. Until his death Meyrink practiced yoga and meditation. Results of these studies and practices are found in Meyrink's works, which almost always deal with various occult traditions. He was also a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a spirituality and occult movement, in London. Fired from his job in banking after it was discovered he was consulting the spirit world to make financial decisions, he moved full time into translating and writing—The Golem came out only a few years after he was arrested and imprisoned for his behavior at the bank. During his life Meyrink lived in a number of places in German-speaking Europe, most notably spending 20 years in Prague. In 1927 he converted to Buddhism. Meyrink was not Jewish, but was assumed to be so by many of his readers and even close associates. During the Nazi period his work was banned as being "Jewish" or "Jewish influenced."

Getting the Book

The Golem can be purchased on Amazon here or here.

About Hugo Steiner-Prag

The Jewish artist Hugo Steiner-Prag was born in Prague, later moving to Leipzig and Berlin as an artist, illustrator, and teacher. For the 1916 publication in Leipzig he did the illustrations. You can view all of his illustrations via our online catalog here. You can read more about the artist, and find links to other work by him here.

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Organizer Leo Baeck Institute – New York | Berlin

Organizer of LBI Book Club, Vol. XIII: The Golem by Gustav Meyrink

The Leo Baeck Institute — New York | Berlin (LBI) is devoted to the history of German-speaking Jews. Its 80,000-volume library and extensive archival and art collections represent the most significant repository of primary source material and scholarship on the Jewish communities of Central Europe over the past five centuries.

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