He Says I Look Like a Jew: Anti-Semitism, Misfortune, and Crypto-Jewishness in Robert Walser’s “Jakob Von Gunten”

  What I love about a great novelist is his or her ability to surprise the reader.  However, sometimes the surprise throws everything the reader thought about the writer into question.  This is especially prescient when the main character of his or her novels is often someone we find charming, pitiable, and yet insightful.  What […]

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 […]

An American-Post-Holocaust Schlemiel: Another Note on Bernard Malamud’s “The Lady of the Lake”

Woody Allen’s Zelig traces the path of a character (of the same name) that, Irving Howe suggests (in one segment of Allen’s film), is based on the passionate drive of American Jews in the early 20th century to assimilate into American society.  Zelig, to be sure, is a schlemiel. But he is what I would […]

The Schlemiel of Wall Street: A Review of Martin Scorsese’s Latest Film

When I went to see The Wolf of Wall Street (2014), I knew there would be comic elements.  But I had no idea that Martin Scorsese would draw on and reinterpret the schlemiel by way of the plot and main characters of this film.   To be sure, all of the critics of the film thus […]

Jerry Lewis’s Animistic Comedy

Many a schlemiel-comedian has made his or her livelihood by way of this or that physical gesture (or series of gestures).  Oftentimes, these gestures are animations of this or that physical feature.  One need only think of the assemblage (to use a word made popular by the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guittari) of Groucho […]

The Transformation of Seth Rogen: From a Schlemiel into a Green Hornet

Seth Rogen is often cast as a schlemiel in many Hollywood films.  We can see this in films like Knocked Up (2007), Superbad (2007), and Pineapple Express (2008). But in films like Knocked Up we start seeing the transformation of Rogen’s character.  In that film, Rogen goes from a pot-smoking “lord of dreams” to a […]