Saturday, April 24, 2010


By Gustav Meyrink

Gustav Meyrink evoked the brooding spirit of Prague in novels rich with mystical symbolism, novels that might be coded with kabalistic messages themselves and capable of working a strange alchemy in their readers. Meyrink was a banker and man-about-town in fin de siecle Prague until series of duels and a false accusation of mishandling bank funds smashed the manacles of respectability that held him back. Thereafter he penned his odd novels mixing his Judeo-Buddhist mysticism with zestful fantasy yarns.

The Angel of the West Window relates the mystic quest of John Dee, the Elizabethan alchemist and secret agent, in parallel with the story of his modern descendant who finds his own life drawn onto the strange path his ancestor once trod. But the path to illumination is perilous and those who would pervert it to their own ends wait for the unwary.

Meyrink’s vision is a dizzying one. His work has been hidden behind a language barrier too long, and Meyrink deserves to take his place alongside Lovecraft, Tolkein, and Howard as a master of modern fantasy. First published in 1927, Angel and other Meyrink works were newly translated and reprinted by Daedelus in the 1990s.

-Dave Hardy

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