Walser and Kafka’s Literary Dogs

Writing of Kafka’s short stories and parables (which include all kinds of animals from mice and apes to dogs and moles), Walter Benjamin takes note of the reader’s experience as an angle for understanding them: “the reader follows these animal tales for a fair distance without even noticing that they do not deal with human […]

A Shtreimel in the Mud: The Schlemiel, the Mensch & Freud’s Male Fantasies

Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche are often seen by academics as figures of modernity. Their thoughts and writings have touched countless scholars who have seen the Modern world through their lenses. One can also read the schlemiel and this characters Jewishness through them, even if it is – as is the case with all of them […]

Why Can’t a Schlemiel be a Mensch?

In his book, Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Male Daniel Boyarin argues that the Jewish male, throughout the Middle Ages, was more effeminate than masculine.   In contrast to the its masculine gentile counterpart (which Boyarin finds in Rashi’s description of the “knight” and in figurations of the “evil […]