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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

HUMORISTS,   SATIRISTS,   SATANISTS,   VISIONARIES    73

there is not much difference; and also - if we lose priestly direction
we are raging brutes). When the card is removed the Golem falls
all of a heap, and nothing remains of him but the figure of a clay
dwarf which is still shown in the Altneusynagoge at Prague. But
the people in the ghetto of Prague believe the Golem still appears
in the streets at intervals - *ein vollkommen fremder Menscb, bartlos,
von gelber Gesrchtsfarbe und mongolischem Typus - in altmodische, ver-
schossene Kleider gehullt - mit schiefgestellten Augen und gespaltener
Lippi. One person who has seen the Golem maintains that it can
only have been her own soul which had stepped out of her body
to face her; this, of course, is E. T. A. Hoffmann's Doppelgdnger-
Motiv, of which there is much in the book. A curiosity of Meyrink's
tale Dasgmne Gesicht (1916) is that the post-War topsyturviness is
foreseen. In all his other tales (Qrchideen, 1904; Das Wachsfigunn-
kabinett, 1907; Walpurgtsnacht, 1917; Der weisse Dominikaner, 1917)
there is the same sensation-mongering in the guise of occultism
or spiritism.

To English readers there is probably more appeal in his Der
Engel vom mstlichen Fenster (1927), for the scene of a great part
of the tale is in England, and in the chain of magicians are St.
Dunstan and Queen Elizabeth, while the hero is Sir John Dee,
the descendant of a Welsh chieftain whose desire is to win Green-
land for Gloriana. ('Greenland*, as the tale unfolds, is the deep
dead past, from which come ghosts and all mediumistic visions
and succubi and the mirages of sexual desire.) The scene changes
to Prague, where another Teufelsbundner> Kaiser Rudolf, wise and
wily but in the toils of priests, directs the ever elusive quest for
the philosopher's stone. The actual theme of the novel is the secret
of existence, and this is revealed (darkly) by the complicated action
as man's ceaseless battle with sex: a good man by his very nature
strives frantically to achieve wisdom and selflessness, but this mas-
culine ideal is thwarted by the demonic fascination of the female,
in this tale sensationally embodied, obscene and divinely lovely, as
the Pontine Isis (die schwar^e Isais\ with lithe limbs and panther's
smell (das Pantherweib). Isis is eternal, for she is in the blood and
is the blood of the male, whose only hope is to be mothered by
some domestic woman, from whose shielding arms he is lured,
however, by this vampire who is lust, not love. The demon may,
when man's senses are cold, fill him with loathing of her functions,
but her magic lies in the heating of his senses; and even if he