World(less) Jews: A Note on Hannah Arendt’s Descriptions of The World, Worldlessness, and Jewishness

Reading through a 1964 interview between Hannah Arendt and Gunter Gaus, I was struck by Arendt’s responses to Gaus regarding the question as to whether or not Jews were apolitical and worldless.  Gaus was prompted to ask these questions because of Arendt’s comments on her relationship to the “Jewish people.”  With this in mind, Gaus […]

On Hannah Arendt’s Reading of Rahel Varnhagen and the Schlemiel – Take One

Schlemiel Theory has published several posts on Hannah Arendt and her reading of the schlemiel in her celebrated essay “The Jew as Pariah.” As I pointed out in many of my readings, Arendt believed that the schlemiel had, for a certain time during modernity, a necessity. But, as she argues (and many critics overlook), she […]

“Unhappy Dualism” or Simplicity: On Gershom Scholem’s Readings of Marranos, Sabbatians, and Hasidim

Duplicity and complexity were of great concern to Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, and Gershom Scholem. In her book on Rahel Varnhagen, Arendt takes aim at Jean-Jacques Rousseau as encouraging duplicity. She saw, in his work, a conflict between the private life and the public life. His confessions maintained this division and complexity. This came in […]

Eliezer Greenberg and Irving Howe’s Case for the “Writers of Sweetness” and the Jewish Anti-Hero – Part II

After explaining how the Yiddish writers (“the writers of sweetness”) came out of a world that made “impossible the power hunger, the pretensions to aristocracy, the whole mirage of false values that have blighted Western intellectual life,” Howe and Greenberg define the themes of Yiddish literature which correlated with this Eastern European world: “the virtue […]