The Golem (Leivick)

The Golem (Leivick)

"The Golem" (original Yiddish title "Der Goylem") is a 1921 "dramatic poem in eight scenes" by H. Leivick. The story is a reworking of a legend of Judah Loew ben Bezalel, known as the "Maharal", a great rabbi of Prague. In the legend, he animates a golem, a being crafted from inanimate material. The same legends had provided the ground for Gustav Meyrink's 1915 novel of the same name.

In both cases, there is an admixture of material of Christian origin and probably influence from Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein". Leivick's version includes several messiah figures including "The Man With the Cross", and is strongly focused on the plight of the golem, animated against his will and wrestling with his particular form of the human condition, and, secondarily, of the rabbi, a "creator whose creation does not respond in accordance with his plan". (Landis, 1972, 221)

Leivick referred to this work as a "dramatic poem" rather than a "play". As originally written, it was unstageable, requiring, for example, that flames flicker out of their own accord and that actors be visibly knocked about (and even bloodied) by invisible forces; furthermore, the full piece would probably take at least four hours to stage, perhaps longer. However, stageable versions were soon developed, and the play became a standard of Yiddish theater.


* Landis, Joseph C. (translator and editor), "The Great Jewish Plays". New York:Horizon. 1972 OCLC|595423. (originally published 1966Fact|date=February 2007), 1986: ISBN 093683904X

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