Friday, March 06, 2015

Der Golem centenary

GOLEM WATCH: How the Golem Got His Groove Back. Gustav Meyrink Made Jewish Frankenstein a Household Name (Benjamin Ivry, The Forward).
This year marks the centenary of the book publication of Gustav Meyrink’s serialized novel “Der Golem.” Until a 2006 episode of TV’s “The Simpsons,” where Bart Simpson stole a golem from Krusty the Clown, Meyrink’s was probably the most famous adaptation of the ancient Jewish legend in which a man of clay is brought to life by magic as a “sort of friendly Jewish Frankenstein,” as Germanist Cathy Gelbin stated in “The Golem Returns.” ...
Gershom Scholem weighed in on the book too:
And Gershom Scholem, then a brilliant young student of Jewish mysticism, complains in “On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism”: “By taking up a figure of Kabbalistic legend and transforming it in a very peculiar way, Meyrink tried to draw a kind of symbolic picture of the way to redemption. Such literary adaptations and transformations of the golem legend have been frequent… Meyrink’s work, however, far outdoes the rest. In it everything is fantastic to the point of grotesque… Behind the facade of an exotic and futuristic Prague ghetto, Indian rather than Jewish ideas of redemption are expounded. The alleged Kabbalah that pervades the book suffers from an overdose of Madame Blavatsky’s turbid theosophy.” ... Scholem concluded: “I visited Meyrink on one or two other occasions, and he never failed to astonish me.”
The Golem is a very popular figure in modern popular culture and you can find many PaleoJudaica posts on him here and links.