ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Golem meets Meyrinck in the Old Prague

Updated on May 24, 2016

The Golem

 

In Jewish folklore, 'a golem' is an animated being created entirely from inanimate matter. In modern Hebrew the word literally means 'cocoon', but can also mean 'fool' or 'stupid'; in Yiddish it is a slang insult, meaning 'clumsy' or 'slow'. The name appears to derive from the word 'gelem', which means 'raw material'. In the Bible, 'a golem' refers to an embryonic or incomplete substance, an 'unshaped form'. Today, 'a golem' stands for an entities serving man under controlled conditions but hostile to him in others.

 

On the Golem MySpace, you can find the story about Rabbi Judah Loew, a 16th century rabbi of Prague:

'He is reported to have created a golem to defend the Prague ghetto of Josefov from Anti-Semitic attacks. The story of the Golem first appeared in print in 1847 in a collection of Jewish tales (...). About sixty years later, a fictional account was published by Yudl Rosenberg (1909). According to the legend, the Emperor made an edict proclaiming that the Jews in Prague were to be either expelled or killed (depending on the version of the story). A golem could be made of clay from the banks of the Vltava river in Prague. Following the prescribed rituals, the Rabbi built the Golem and made him come to life by reciting special incantations in Hebrew. The Rabbi's intention was to have the Golem protect the Jewish community from harm. As Rabbi Loew's Golem grew bigger, he also became more violent and started killing the Gentiles (non-Jews) and spreading fear. Some versions also add that the Golem turns on his creator and attacks either his creator alone or the creator and the Jews as well. In the face of the strength demonstrated and violence perpetrated by the Golem, the Emperor begs Rabbi Loew to destroy the Golem, and in return he would promise that the persecution of and violence towards the Jews would stop. The Rabbi accepted this offer. To destroy the Golem, he rubbed out the first letter of the word "emet" or "aemaeth" (God's truth) from the golem's forehead to make the Hebrew word "met" or "maeth", meaning death. It was made clear to the Emperor that the Golem of Prague's remains would be stored in a coffin in the attic of the Altneuschul in Prague, and it can be summoned again if needed. By legend, that coffin with the unformed earth inside is still there today.'

In the late nineteenth century the golem was adopted by the European mainstream. Very famous was the novel Der Golem (1915) by Gustav Meyrink, a most fascinating fantasy author and member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn: : 'In Prague an event occurred which played a providential role in Meyrink's life. Meyrink described it in the autobiographical short story "The Pilot". That day, August 14, 1892, on Assumption Eve, Meyrink, 24 years old, was standing at his table with a gun at his hand, strongly determined to shoot himself. At that moment he heard a strange scratch and someone's hand put a tiny booklet under his door. The booklet was called Afterlife. Meyrink was shocked by this dramatic coincidence and started to study the literature of the occult. Having studied theosophy, Kabbala, christian Sophiology and Eastern mysticism, he also tried to practise (in the beginning, quite naively).'

The main character of Der Golem is Athanasius Pernath, a contemporary artist from Prague: 'It is left to the reader to decide whether Pernath is simply writing down his hallucinations or gradually turning into a real golem,' says the Meyrink MySpace Page. The book inspired a classic set of expressionistic silent movies, as Paul Wegener's Golem series, of which especially The Golem: How He Came Into the World is worth mentioning here. Hollywood composer Carvin Knowles gave the classic 1920 German expressionist black and white horror film a new soundtrack. He wrote about his work on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zag79w8eIQ :

'In this scene, Rabbi Loew summons the Sumerian demon Astaroth to learn the word that will bring the Golem to life -- rendered in the most arcane transliteration from Hebrew that I have ever seen, the word is "Aemath" meaning "emet" (Hebrew) or "truth".'

Later on, the golem tales saw a dramatic change and became a creation of overambitious mystics, who would inevitably be punished for their blasphemy, as in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the alchemical homunculus.

The Golem

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Gunnar Gällmo profile image

      Gunnar Gällmo 

      8 years ago from Stockholm

      Actully, Frankenstein was written almost a century before Der Golem...

      And Victor Frankenstein was hardly an "overambitious mystic"; rather, an early mad scientist.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)