On Jewish Dwarves
Tolkien was … influenced by his own selective reading of medieval texts regarding the Jewish people and their history. The dwarves’ characteristics of being dispossessed of their homeland (the Lonely Mountain, their ancestral home, is the goal the exiled Dwarves seek to reclaim), and living among other groups whilst retaining their own culture are all derived from the medieval image of Jews, whilst their warlike nature stems from accounts in the Hebrew Bible. Medieval views of Jews also saw them as having a propensity for making well-crafted and beautiful things, a trait shared with Norse dwarves. … The Dwarven calendar invented for The Hobbit reflects the Jewish calendar in beginning in late autumn. The dwarves taking Bilbo out of his complacent existence has been seen as an eloquent metaphor for the “impoverishment of Western society without Jews.”
I really adore this. It might be because my ancestry is entirely Jewish myself, and goodness knows there’s a paucity of Jewish-influenced cultures and analogues in fantasy fiction, while there’s umpteen million thinly veiled versions of Christianity.
I would really love to see more writers characterizing dwarves as Jewish or Jewish-influenced, be it in the religion or cultures. Pratchett’s dwarves veer a bit towards that, though I recall that he didn’t do so deliberately, but I would be delighted to see (especially Jewish) writers and artists creating fantasy settings where this is the case.
Man, I dunno. You’re flattered by an ueber-conservative Christian throwing some scraps to the Jews, all the while erasing actual little people? (Granted there was probably little awareness of dwarfism/dwarf culture in Tolkien’s time).
The “mythical dwarf” with his (they are always male) super strength is nothing more than a shallow, ironic contrast to the constant alienation foisted upon real humans with dwarfism. Good job eschewing anything pertinent for some Christian plan for Jews, Tolkien.
Also, JEWS AS DWARVES? I can’t even begin to enumerate all the anti-Semitic tropes this plays into. Here are some actual Jewish little people who died in the Shoah.
In order for this post to be more than a rant, here is a discussion on Judaism and Fantasy literature. My opinion is that Jews don’t write fantasy because our traditions are quite fantastical. Open up nearly any Yiddish book, modern or not, and you will see some weird shit; so the whole category of “fantasy” really needs to be questioned.