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Legendary Prague

Chapter 4 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM: Introduction

Martina Lüdicke

Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague, was a significant philosopher and scholar of his time, though he probably never actually created a golem. The story about him and his soulless assistant was not ascribed to him until two hundred years after his death. Rabbi Loew lived in sixteenth-century Prague during the reign of Rudolf II, a patron of the arts and sciences with eclectic interests. Rudolf II moved his residence from Vienna to Prague and maintained close contact with astronomers, mathematicians, artisans, and painters, and he was particularly interested in Jewish mysticism. Evidence of this intellectual atmosphere is Rudolf’s Kunstkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, containing the most diverse collector’s items from all over the world.

The spirit of the age, inspired by magic and the occult, by alchemy and astronomy, was an ideal screen on which to project the invented legend of the golem of Prague, the setting most closely tied to the story of the golem. No golem creator has gained greater fame than Rabbi Loew. The myth of the Prague golem carries on to today: in the storefront windows with their souvenir figures, at mythical sites such as Rabbi Loew’s grave, or with the rumor that the remains of the golem are still located in an inaccessible attic room of the Old New Synagogue in Prague. The legend lives on.

Citation recommendation:

Martina Lüdicke (2016), Legendary Prague. Chapter 4 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM: Introduction.

Golem als Actionfigur (Ausschnitt)

Online Edition of the GOLEM Catalog: Table of Contents

The Golem in Berlin – introduction by Peter Schäfer
Chapter 1
The Golem Lives On – introduction by Martina Lüdicke
My Light is Your Life – by Anna Dorothea Ludewig
Avatars – by Louisa Hall
The Secret of the Cyborgs – by Caspar Battegay
Chapter 2
Jewish Mysticism – introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Golem Magic – by Martina Lüdicke
Golem, Language, Dada – by Emily D. Bilski
Chapter 3
Transformation – introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Jana Sterbak’s Golem: Objects as Sensations – by Rita Kersting
Crisálidas (Chrysalises) – by Jorge Gil
Rituals – by Christopher Lyon
A Golem that Ended Well – by Emily D. Bilski
On the Golem – by David Musgrave
Louise Fishman’s Paint Golem – by Emily D. Bilski
Chapter 4
Current page: Legendary Prague – introduction by Martina Lüdicke
Golem Variations – by Peter Schäfer
Rabbi Loew’s Well-Deserved Bath – by Harold Gabriel Weisz Carrington
Chapter 5
Horror and Magic – introduction by Martina Lüdicke
Golem and a Little Girl – by Helene Wecker
The Golem with a Group of Children Dancing – by Karin Harrasser
Bringing the Film Set To Life – by Anna-Carolin Augustin
Golem and Mirjam – by Cathy S. Gelbin
Chapter 6
Out of Control – introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Golem—Man Awakened with Glowing Hammer – by Arno Pařík
Dangerous Symbols – by Charlotta Kotik
Be Careful What You Wish For – by Marc Estrin
Chapter 7
Doppelgänger – introduction by Martina Lüdicke
From the Golem-Talmud – by Joshua Cohen
Kitaj’s Art Golem – by Tracy Bartley
The Golem as Techno-Imagination? – by Cosima Wagner
See also
GOLEM – 2016, online edition with selected texts of the exhibition catalog
GOLEM – 2016, complete printed edition of the exhibition catalog, in German
Golem. From Mysticism to Minecraft – Online Feature, 2016
GOLEM – exhibition, 23 Sep 2016 to 29 Jan 2017

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