The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague


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Yudl Rosenberg, edited and translated by Curt Leviant

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The first English translation, from the original Hebrew, of the golem stories by Yudl Rosenberg, who gives Golem a name (Yossele), expands his humanity, and changes forever the dynamic of the legend

This collection of interrelated stories about a sixteenth-century Prague rabbi and the golem he created became an immediate bestseller upon its publication in 1909. So widely popular and influential was Yudl Rosenberg’s book, it is no exaggeration to claim that the author transformed the centuries-old understanding of the creature of clay and single-handedly created the myth of the golem as protector of the Jewish people during times of persecution. In addition to translating Rosenberg’s classic golem story into English for the first time, Curt Leviant also offers an introduction in which he sets Rosenberg’s writing in historical context and discusses the golem legend before and after Rosenberg’s contributions. Generous annotations are provided for the curious reader. The book is full of adventures, surprises, romance, suspense, mysticism, Jewish pride, and storytelling at its best. The Chief Rabbi of Prague, known as the Maharal, brings the golem Yossele to life to help the Jews fight false accusations of ritual murder—the infamous blood libel. More human, more capable, and more reliable as a protector than any golem imagined before, Rosenberg’s Golem irrevocably changed one of the most widely influential icons of Jewish folklore.

Curt Leviant is the prizewinning author or translator of more than two dozen books, including six critically acclaimed novels. His translations from the Yiddish include Isaac Bashevis Singer’s More Stories from My Father’s Court and five volumes of Sholom Aleichem collections. He has won the Wallant Award for his fiction and several national and international writing fellowships.

"This collection of Golem stories written in the early twentieth century by Yudl Rosenberg provides a valuable inside perspective on the shape of the legend."—Robert Alter, author of Imagined Cities

"Given the enduring attraction of the Golem myth to the Jewish and general public, this book is an important addition to the corpus of Jewish cultural texts in English translation." —Lewis Glinert, Dartmouth College

"Leviant's translation of Rosenberg's work is both an academic triumph and a fun read. . . . Rosenberg's book succeeds in offering a mix of suspense and Torah with a dash of humor. It's a weird, anachronistic romp through both the mysticism of the 16th century, the sensibilities of the 19th, and the timeless humor and mysticism of Judaism."—Matthue Roth, World Jewish Digest

"The stories are filled with fantasy, suspense, horror, courtroom drama, intrigue and revenge, as well as romance and humour. . . . Rosenberg's The Golem has left a lasting mark on popular culture."—Montreal Gazette

"Leviant's thoughtfully crafted edition, the first to collect Rosenberg's tales in English translation, provides a perspective on Jewish social and literary history that is both entertaining and illuminating. The stories themselves read as a cross between Biblical parables and mysteries, with some mildly comic episodes thrown in."—Jessica Bennett, RainTaxi

"A golem is an oddity—a marvelous oddity, a giant formed from clay and brought to life by the mystical application of God's name. And the golem of Yudl Rosenberg's 1909 book, appearing in English for the first time, is even more marvelous."—Na'amat Woman

"A detective story worthy of a man with Leviant's multiple talents; he is, in his own right, an author equally at home writing first-rate fiction or translating a complicted Hebrew work by Yudl Rosenberg. . . . So good are Rosenberg's self-created 'folktales' that it is easy to think of them as being told, and then written down, in the late 16th century."—Stanford Pinsker, New Jersey Jewish News

"Leviant is a fine novelist in his own right, and his translation of this collection of interrelated tales introduces Anglophone readers to stories of political and religious intrigue surrounding false accusations of ritual murder. Leviant's scholarly introduction provides historic and literary contextualization of the golem myth from the Middle Ages to the present, and his ample notes gloss allusions to Judaic texts and rabbinic writings. Highly recommended."—Choice

“A masterpiece of miracles.”—Mindy Aloff, Forward

"Thanks to an erudite and insightful introduction and adroit translation by Curt Leviant, English readers will, for the first time, be able to enjoy a book of wonderful tales describing the heroic and humorous deed of Yossele, 'the claymener goylem'. . . . Leviant presents these stories in a deceptively simple style, and also provices the reader with a richly detailed historical background, along with informative and enlightening footnotes."—Moshe Moskowitz, Midstream

Selected as a 2008 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries.
ISBN: 9780300143201
Publication Date: August 19, 2008
256 pages, 5 1/2 x 7