Saturday, February 26, 2011

Comfortable shoes be damned UPDATED

So if the Galliano arrest was the news item most obviously destined for WWPD, this week's Vows column is as WWPD as a Vows column can get. We have: the novels of Philip Roth. A cameo by Philip Roth. A French Jew from Strasbourg. A classic interaction between a Western European man and an American woman: "He found her to be elegant, but, he said, 'She had the ugliest shoes I had ever seen — huge square heels, like a poor crippled kid in ‘Oliver Twist.''"

This I do find baffling: "In Mr. Roth, [the groom] said, he discovered that 'there was something I could be linked with that was not Woody Allen or the Marx Brothers or Goldman Sachs.'" How Roth could be an alternative to Allen, that is, but maybe it's different for the French.


Forgot to mention the glaringly obvious connection between this and L'Affaire Galliano - part of Galliano's outburst was allegedly telling the woman he thought was Jewish (but apparently was not, and the "Asian" reference was apparently to an Asian man she was with) that her bag was ugly.


PG said...

In the context of the article, the groom seemed to be saying that he thought Roth grappled with Jewish tradition in a way that Allen doesn't. I don't feel familiar enough with either (having read only Portnoy's Complaint and seen only 3 Allen films) to know if that's a meaningful distinction.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


I've been neck-deep in the works of these two men since forever, and I often find their approaches to Jewish culture interchangeable. More strikingly, they've had the same impact on the culture in terms of how Jews and Judaism are understood, by non-Jews (although non-Jews are obviously less preoccupied with Jews) and by Jews themselves. Both are understood as presenting an opposition between the stifling Jewish childhood and the freedom that is America, America personified by the "shiksa." This is to some extent because Portnoy's Complaint and Annie Hall were really moments in the culture that their other works were not - and rightfully so, in my opinion, given the respective quality of these and other works they've produced. But their overlapping portraits of postwar American (male) Jewry hit home for American Jews of that generation, and provided the template for the "shiksappeal" episode of Seinfeld, the Meet the Parents franchise, etc.

Long story short, the idea that Roth could seem refreshingly different from Allen or vice versa strikes me as an unusual opinion to hold