Becoming Jewish – Part VI of Facing Failure: A Levinasian Reading of Bernard Malamud

Unlike any author in Jewish-American or Yiddish literature, Bernard Malamud closely traces the process of a non-Jewish character’s becoming-a-Jew. But what makes Malamud’s treatment so fascinating and thought provoking is the fact that Frank, an Italian-American character who becomes a Jew, is that Frank is inspired to become Jewish by virtue of a schlemiel. His […]

Neo-Hasidic Magical Realism and the Revision of the Hasidic Schlemiel

In his book Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Hetrosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man, Daniel Boyarin has a chapter where he looks into how some of the stories of the Baal Shem Tov, the father of Hasidism, evince a new approach to Jewish masculinity.    Boyarin prefaces this reading by arguing that Jews, traditionally, […]

On the Apocalyptic Tone of Comedy – Take 1

For some writers, there’s nothing like a good death sentence.   Merely describing a death, for some writers, is ecstatic and revelatory.  In doing so these writers feel as if they are bearing witness to death while proclaiming a new beginning.  There is a sense of pathos, meaning, and liberation from the dead in such descriptions. […]