Antedating of schliemiel (1889)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 23 16:17:04 UTC 2004

At 6:30 AM -0800 2/23/04, James Smith wrote:
>The character "SchlÈmil" is in Offenbach's "Contes
>d"Hoffman" that premiered in Paris in 1881
>(composition finished in 1880).  SchlÈmil is certainly
>a schlimiel, and I've always considered the name as
>deliberatly and aptly chosen.

I wondered about that too when I saw it.

>--- Sam Clements <SClements at NEO.RR.COM> wrote:
>>  14 Oct. 1889  _Sandusky Daily Register_   2/2
>>  <<The ancient Israelites called a man who was
>>  peculiarly unlucky a Schlemiel.  No matter what his
>  > opportunities he was sure to have ill luck. >>
Is "ancient Israelites" a joke here?  Somehow "shlemihl" (like
"shlemozzle", "shmendrik", etc.) always struck me as a relatively
modern Yiddishism and not a Biblical term.   Or is Abel described as
the first shlemihl in the Hebrew Pentateuch?


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