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The Golem by Gustav Meyrink

by: Watkins Wisdom

The Golem had a magnificent reception, and the collected volume published in 1915 sold 200,000 copies. Meyrink went on to write several more books, including The Green Face, Walpurgisnacht, the White Dominican and The Angel of the West Window. All have been published in English by Dedalus Books since the mid-1980s, and Mike Mitchell's excellent 1995 translations are definitely worth seeking out. Meyrink was, of course, a contemporary of Kafka, and his novels have a lot in common with Prague's better-known fantasist. As Robert Irwin says in the introduction to the Dedalus edition of The Golem: We have the Castle which is not Kafka's Castle, the Trial which is not Kafka's Trial, and a Prague which is not Kafka's Prague; HP Lovecraft was more succinct, calling The Golem 'the most magnificent weird thing I've come across in aeons'. A century after its first publication, The Golem endures as a piece of modernist fantasy that deserves to take its place alongside Kafka, from an author whose life was almost as fantastic as his fiction.