The Golem of Prague and the Jewish Aversion to Fantasy

Its devotees are entitled to their opinion that fantasy is not a genre of Christianity. They are not, however, entitled to distort the facts. The Golem of Prague, I am informed again and again, is proof positive that fantasy is not alien to Judaism. But the Golem is not the supernatural fantasy that those who know the legend only through its modern retellings think it is. As Michael Weingrad said in dismissing a similar objection to his pathbreaking essay “Why There Is No Jewish Narnia,”

Those who have offered golems, dybbuks, and magic dreidels as the answer to my question are skimming the surface or unfamiliar with the heft and richness of Judaism.

Exactly so. Michael Chabon relied heavily upon the Golem of Prague in writing The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), his novel about the Jewish creators of comic-book superheroes. The novel’s revisionist claim is that the artist-and-writer duos of the “Golden Age of Comics” — Jewish duos like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Will Eisner and Jerry Iger, Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee — reinvented a significant subgenre of Jewish literature that had originated in the legends of the Golem, the man of clay enchanted into life by the 16th-century Rabbi Judah Löw of Prague.

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The Golem of Prague and the Jewish Aversion to Fantasy

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