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Gustav Meyrink

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Biography

Gustav Meyrink (January 19, 1868 – December 4, 1932) was the pseudonym of Gustav Meyer, an Austrian author, novelist, dramatist, translator, and banker, most famous for his novel The Golem. He has been described as the “most respected German language writer in the field of supernatural fiction”.

Gustav Meyrink was born with the name Gustav Meyer in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria) on January 19, 1868. He was the illegitimate son of Baron Karl von Varnbüler und zu Hemmingen and actress Maria Wilhelmina Adelheyd Meier.

Until thirteen years of age Meyrink lived mainly in Munich, where he completed elementary school. He then stayed in Hamburg for a brief time, until his mother relocated to Prague in 1883.

In Prague an event occurred which played a providential role in Meyrink’s life. Meyrink described it in the autobiographical short story “The Pilot”. That day, August 14, 1892, on Assumption Eve, Meyrink, 24 years old, was allegedly standing at his table with a gun at his head, determined to shoot himself. At that moment he heard a strange scratching sound and someone’s hand put a tiny booklet under his door. The booklet was called Afterlife. Meyrink was surprised by this dramatic coincidence and started to study the literature of the occult. He studied theosophy, Kabbala, Christian Sophiology and Eastern mysticism. Until his death Meyrink practiced yoga and other occult exercises.

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