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19. - 20. století

Gustav Meyrink

Writer and translator of German
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He was a prominent Austrian writer and playwright who loved the old Prague and later converted to Buddhism. He was called the “Poe” of Austrian literature. His nephew was the excellent poet Christian Morgenstern.
He was born in Vienna on the 60th birthday of Edgar Allan Poe as the illegitimate son of baron von Varnbuler and an actress. He lived in Munich until he was 13 and moved to Prague with his mother in 1883, only to fall in love with the city. For Meyrink, his feelings regarding Prague were inexpressible, although the city eventually played a crucial part in his work. In 1889 he started a career in the banking industry and together with his nephew Morgenstern, they founded their own banking company. He was however not happy with his life and this feeling culminated when he was 24 and was almost decided to commit suicide. But on that critical day at midnight, somebody shove a leaflet entitled “Life after death” under his door. Meyrink felt it was an intervention from supernatural powers and he hurled himself into the study of occultism and mysticism. He became the member of the famous Hermetic order of the Golden Dawn and partly of the Theosophical Society. He practiced yoga and got interested in the Cabala. He perceived it as his “providence”,

but in 1902 it led to him being accused of deceit in the banking industry because of his use of “spiritualism”. That was the end of his career in the banking industry and the reason he started writing.
Meyrink began his work with short stories, but later ventured into novels. They were full of mysticism and their common theme was his fascination for Prague. At that time he also moved to Vienna and had two children. He managed to translate all the works by Dickens (15 volumes) within 5 years and even the old Egyptian Book of the Dead.
In 1915 he earned great recognition for his world-renowned novel Golem, which helped improve his financial situation and led to him buying a villa in Bavaria. There he wrote some of his other famous works such as The Angel of the West Window or The White Dominican. But the end of his life wasn’t merciful. In 1932, his son Fortunat had a severe ski accident and became paralyzed. This situation devastated the young man and when he was 24 (the same age as Meyrink when he attempted it) he committed suicide. Meyrink died less than a year later.

Golem, 1915
The Green Face, 1916
Walpurgis Night, 1917
The White Dominican, 1921
At the Threshold of the Beyond, 1923
The Angel of the West Window, 1927


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