Gustav Meyrink

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Meyrink, Gustav (1868-1932)

Pseudonym of German novelist Gustav Meyer, famous for his occult fiction. He was also actively concerned with occult and theosophical groups in Europe before and during World War I. Meyrink was born June 19, 1868 in Vienna but was later taken by his family to Prague, Czechoslovakia, where his moth-er's family owned a bank. As a young man Meyrink worked in the bank, but he was attracted to occult teachings. By 1891 he joined the Theosophical Lodge of the Blue Star, whose members practiced various occult disciplines. Meyrink translated Nature's Finer Forces by Rama Prasad, one of the first works to introduce tantra to a popular audience in the West. In 1903 he published his first collection of short stories. Many of his writings have themes of fantasy or occultism, with echoes of E. T. A. Hoffmann, Edgar Allan Poe, and Franz Kafka.

His best-known novel was Der Golem (1915; translated by M. Pemberton as The Golem, 1928). This is a brilliant and strangely disturbing book concerned with the Kabala and the occult, based on Prague legends of the Golem, a mysterious man-monster said to have been created from clay by Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague in the seventeenth century. The book had added power in relating to the real-life background of Golem legends, which remained popular in the Prague ghetto, the site of Rabbi Loew's grave. A German silent film The Golem, directed and scripted by Paul Wegener, was produced in 1920, adapted very loosely from Meyrink's novel.

Meyrink converted from Protestantism to Buddhism and spent many years in occult investigations, including experiments in alchemy. He was present at some of the séances of Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing in Munich with the medium "Eva C." Meyrink also practiced yoga and claimed to have achieved telepathic contact with the famous South Indian holy man Sri Ramana Maharshi, guru of Paul Brunton. After a rich and varied life, Meyrink died in December 1932 in Starnberg, Germany.


Frank, Eduard. Gustav Meyrink. Budingen-Gettenbach, Germany: Avalun Verlag, 1957.

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