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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A distinct vision of the soul's progress., 26 Aug 2000
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A. C. Walter "awalter" (Lynnwood, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Green Face (Decadence from Dedalus) (Paperback)
Gustav Meyrink's "The Green Face" is an exhilarating vision of apocalypse. First published in 1916, the novel sets its action in the near future of post-war Amsterdam, a city brimming with displaced people and with a stifling atmosphere of unrelenting tension. At this critical time appears an enigmatic being named Chidher Green, the mythical Wandering Jew.

Meyrink reworks and amplifies the legend of the Wandering Jew (a being fated to walk the earth from the days of Christ till the end of time), portraying his Chidher Green as a harbinger of cataclysmic change both for the novel's protagonist, Fortunatus Hauberrisser, and for Amsterdam in general. The story begins with Hauberrisser encountering Chidher Green in a magic shop one day, oblivious to his identity. Soon after, Hauberrisser finds a peculiar chain of old memories and chance encounters erupting around him. As in a house of mirrors, this one image of a bronze-green face suddenly appears around every corner. The face becomes a sort of totem of meditative contemplation (drawing associations with Zen Buddhism). Finally, Hauberrisser and his companions reach a consensus over the phenomenon's significance: If one were to attain a spiritual state in which this face manifested internally, a unique form of transcendence would then be achieved.

When all is said and done, Fortunatus Hauberrisser does not prove to be one of Meyrink's most memorable characters. However, it is also true that his protagonists are often intended as ciphers. If this novel is Meyrink's "Book of Revelation," then Hauberrisser is certainly his Saint John, valuable largely for his role as privileged witness to the spirit world's mysteries.

Also, the route Hauberrisser must take through the story is Meyrink's familiar path of enlightenment-a moment of sudden spiritual awareness followed by a period of isolation, which at last leads to promises of a mystical marriage. Though this path echoes through Meyrink's other work, it would be a mistake to imagine he is simply repeating himself or relying on a formula here. Meyrink has a very distinct vision of the soul's progress; and it is this intense conviction that again manifests so clearly in "The Green Face."

"At the beginning, when we make our first, hesitant attempts, it is like a mindless groping in the dark, and sometimes we do things that resemble the actions of a madman and for a long time seem to lack all consistency. It is only gradually that the chaos forms into a countenance, in whose varying expressions we can read the will of destiny. At first they are grimaces, but that is the way it is with all great matters."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deeper than Golem but not so much story, 27 Dec 2010
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This review is from: The Green Face (Decadence from Dedalus) (Paperback)
This is the longest literary philosophical work of fiction I've read - where the Golem was 70% story, this Meyrink's second novel of 1916 is only 20% story; the rest is amazing thought provoking stuff from the author's insightful mind. The story is almost miniscule, I give nothing away by saying it's as follows: Hauberisser visits a strange shop in early 1900s Amsterdam and discovers Chider Green - a mythical representation of God/'The Wandering Jew' and the fearsome Zulu warrior. He then meets a group of radical thinkers and falls in love with Eva. She is abducted and Hauderisser tries to find her. There are other characters of course; Hauderisser is a little weak being buffetted rather than driving events.

Meyrink was known as a clever, educated thinker drawing on his resources in eastern religions, the paranormal, Christianity etc. This book contains many ideas and thoughts which you'd find in any religious text. I preferred Golem because the story was better but The Green Face is deeper and probably worth a second reading.

Here are some quotes of many:
`Then, as the meadows darkened and the silvery mist rose from the ground so that the cattle seemed to be wreathed in smoke, he began to feel as if his skull were a prison cell and he himself were sitting in it looking out through his eyes on a free world for the last time'

`For a few centuries a diseased organism, so huge it eventually came to resemble a temple soaring up into the heavens, had been taken for culture; now it had collapsed laying bare the decay within'

`Nowadays everyone thinks they can organise; that's shows how wrong it must be...Even Jesus did not attempt to organise people, he just set an example'

`The more vigorous and self-assured a person is, the more they will think they themselves created any great idea they have; the weaker and more pliable, the more likely they believe it was the result of outside inspiration'

`Like a fading beauty trying to hide her age beneath a welter of bright cosmetics, nature was flaunting her autumn colours.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, 30 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Green Face (Decadence from Dedalus) (Paperback)
After having read the original in German, I bought this for my daughter, and I can only recommend it, as the translation is excellent.
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The Green Face (Decadence from Dedalus)
The Green Face (Decadence from Dedalus) by Gustav Meyrink (Paperback - 15 Sep 1992)
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