Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

A City with continuing Occultism associations, almost certainly because Rabbi Loëw (or Lowe) ben Bezalel (1512-1609) is supposed to have used his powers as a Magus and leader of a cabal of Jews to create a Golem, which henceforth could be imagined haunting the ghetto. It is this city that John Dee (in life and in fiction) visited in his search for hermetic truths, and which is the venue for tales like F Marion Crawford's The Witch of Prague (1891). The golem story itself has been recounted on innumerable occasions, most recently in He, She and It (1991; vt Body of Glass 1992 UK) by Marge Piercy (1936-    ). The central use of the Prague golem in a Supernatural Fiction is Gustav Meyrink's The Golem (1914). Meyrink subsequently used Prague as a city hovering on the verge of dissolution, perhaps inspired in this by its geographical and political fragility after 1918, when it was no longer part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This city – hectic, doom-laden, Weimar-like, ornate and mysterious and courtly – underlies much of the fiction of Karel Čapek, Franz Kafka and Leo Perutz. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.