by Gustav Meyrink
“The world exists for us to think it to tatters.”
Centipede referred to this translation as “hallucinogenic” and it’s possibly the best word to describe the work. It’s like being (allegedly) on LSD, but with most cognitive functions still intact–it’s one hell of a trip (allegedly).
Looking deeply at the plot at would be a mistake, partly because shoehorning this story into a box might well remove the mystic, opium-flavored experience, and partially because it’s difficult to tell if things were understood properly on a single read.
We follow Pernath, a jeweler, through a section of his adult life in Prague as he experiences the people around him, falling in love, being betrayed, imprisoned, released, and quite confused himself much of the time. Not much of a plot, right? That’s because this book’s plot seems secondary to the hypnotic happenings in Pernath’s life.
It’s interesting, no doubt, and has a kind of voice straight out of a nightmare-turned-neutral, obfuscating throughout. That doesn’t mean bad, either; it’s interpretive. There are multiple moments throughout the read where the mystic action leaps off the page and cranks your imagination to 11, only to fall back into a fugue state within minutes.
Quite possibly, you’ve never read anything like it.
“Could I not dream for a minute, for a second, for the brief span of human existence?”