Gustav Meyrink, the illegitimate son of Maria Wilhelmina Adelheid Mayer and Minister of State Karl Freiherr von Farnvuhler, was born on January 19, 1868 in Vienna. His mother was an actress and therefore traveled a lot with the theater. Childhood and youth Meyrinka were in constant trips. He studied in gymnasiums – alternately in Munich, Hamburg and Prague. Literary scholars and biographers Meyrinka believe that the writer’s mother treated her son rather coldly, and the boy was deprived of maternal warmth in childhood. Some believe that this is why the writer later succeeded in vampiric and demonic female characters and positive figures came out rather flat. In 1888, Meyrink graduated from the Academy of Commerce in Prague. After that, he founded, with the nephew of the poet Christian Morgenstern, the trading bank Mayer and Morgenstern, which for some time functioned quite successfully.
Engaged in banking activities not very diligently, Meyrink led a high life in Prague. Once he even fought a duel with some officer because of an inappropriate and offensive hint of illegitimate birth.
In 1892, Meyrink married Edwig Maria Zertl – but rather quickly became disillusioned with this marriage and did not divorce until 1905 only because of the stubbornness of his wife and some legal details.
In the 90s, Meyrink became interested in occultism. In the posthumously published autobiographical story, “The Pilot,” he himself describes the circumstances in which he first encountered the mysterious forces of fate. In 1892, when he was 24 years old, he experienced a profound spiritual crisis, which gradually led him to the idea of suicide. When he was already standing in his room, preparing to leave the world of the living forever, something rustled under the door, and he saw a thin brochure under the strange name Life after Death was thrust into the slot. This impressed him so much that he dramatically changed his intention. Mystical coincidence in many respects influenced his entire future destiny.
After this incident, he went deeper into the study of occult treatises, participated in the establishment of the Prague branch of the Theosophical Society “At the Blue Star” and came into contact with a circle of “Prague mystics, grouped around a certain Weber Alois Mylander.
In the same 1892, at Meyrinka, the Prague police received slanderous accusations of using spiritualism and witchcraft in banking. He was taken into custody and was in prison for two and a half months. Despite the ultimate proof of his innocence, this incident negatively affected all his affairs, and he was forced to leave his enterprise.
In the 1900s, Meyrink began to write satirical short stories for the journal Simplicissimus. Already in them, the author shows a significant interest in mysticism and eastern religions. At this time, Meyrink was in close contact with the Prague group of neo-romanticists A. Kubin, R. Teschner, R. Leppin and O. Wiener. From under his pen go grotesque fantastic stories with elements of social satire and frank makabra. Later, he combined them in the 3-volume “The Magic Horn of the German Philistine.”
In 1905, Meyrink marries Philomena Berndt. With their new wife, they often travel to Europe. In Vienna, Meyrink publishes the satirical magazine Der lieber Augustin, while continuing to collaborate simultaneously in Prague’s Sympilicissimus. In 1906, Meyrinka was born the daughter of Felicitas Sibylla in Switzerland, and in 1908, the son of Harro Fortunat, in Munich.
During his travels, Meyrink meets with various representatives of European occult schools and, in particular, with the esoteric group of the Italian Giuliano Kremmertsa, called the “Miriam Chain”. Communication with Kremmerts and initiation into the occult hermetic-tantric practice “The Miriam Chains” was an extremely important event for Meyrink, which was reflected in all subsequent literary works, one way or another connected with the ideas and technique of the Kremmerts school, and especially in the novel “Golem”.
In 1915, this novel was published and immediately brought Meyrink incredible success. He withstood several editions, performances were staged on him and expressionist films were shot. Immediately after the Golem, Meyrink publishes a second novel, The Green Face, and a collection of short stories, The Bats. Although these books do not exceed the success of Golem in popularity, the public reads them with pleasure. Meyrink also translates Dickens and occult treatises. In 1917 he wrote the novel Walpurgis Night, the interest in which is noticeably weaker than in previous books.
Thanks to the income from his publications, Meyrink got the opportunity to buy a villa on Lake Starnberg, which he called “The House at the Last Lantern.” In it, he lived the rest of his life.
In 1921 he published the novel The White Dominican, and in 1927 the last book, The Angel of the Western Window. Meyrink also publishes 5 volumes of the novels and books about magic that he himself established.
In 1927, Meyrink adopted Buddhism and was fully committed to meditation practice.