Progressive Schlemiels: On Dan Miron’s Reading of Sholem Aleichem’s “Motl the Cantor’s Son”

Dan Miron is one of the greatest living critics of Yiddish and Jewish-American literature today.   His books on these bodies of literature have won him critical claim.  What interests me most is how Miron would approach a schlemiel like Motl (the main character of Sholem Aleichem’s Motl the Cantor’s Son: Writings of an Orphan Boy. […]

Generation Gaps: On Schlemiel Children & (Jewish) Mothers in Bruce Jay Freidman’s “A Mother’s Kisses” and Jesse Eisenberg’s “Bream Gives Me Hiccups”

Books give me ideas.  I love to be between one book and another.  It’s like being between one place and another.  I’m always walking – it seems – from one idea to another.   I like to retrace my steps because I might stumble – like a schlemiel – across something. Wandering around New York […]

Kotonti! A Note on Freud, Humor, and Tevye

At the outset of Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman, there is a letter – dated 1895 – addressed from Tevye to Sholem Aleichem, the author.    At the top of the page is an expression that is used by Jacob to describe himself: “Kotonti – I am Unworthy.”  The English translation of the word, Kotonti as […]

Happy Birthday Saul Bellow!

Today is Saul Bellow’s birthday.  In honor of his birthday, I have decided to hyperlink several essays I have written on his wonderful work.  Enjoy!   Saul Bellow on Shalom Aleichem’s Motl. Saul Bellow’s Literary Question: What Happens When a Schlemiel Nearly Dies While-Watching-A-Trial?  A Schlemiel With a Russian Revolver: On the Un-Heroic Conduct of […]