'Is Superman Circumcised?' Oddest Book Title and Unexpected Take on Superhero's Origins

© East News / Mary Evans Picture LibrarySuperman
Superman - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.12.2021
A series of movies and cartoons about superheroes seem to explain every single detail about their lives - but some people prefer to ask unorthodox questions.
Everybody knows that Superman is a symbol of America itself, but what kind of American is he? Seems like there is a surprising answer for that, in a book called "Is Superman Circumcised? The Complete Jewish History of the World's Greatest Hero" by Roy Schwartz.
This work, which, by the way, won the Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year 2021, shed light on the "Jewish heritage" of the first American superhero since he was created by two Jewish Americans - writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster - in the 1930s.

"That’s right. Superman, the Man of Steel, the symbol of Americana, is Jewish", Schwartz says.

According to the writer, the origin story was "based on Moses, his strength on Samson, his mission on the golem, and his nebbish secret identity on themselves", while Krypton is based on Jewish culture.

"The comic book medium is a Jewish invention, and the superhero genre is a Jewish invention, very much like jazz is an African-American invention. And I wanted to explore both the historical context and the thematic content", he explained.

He also said he was glad to get the award for the oddest title: "Anybody can win the Pulitzer. This is something special", he said.
Commenting on the question in the title, however, Schwartz says it is unclear, saying what he has is "a very Jewish answer, which is: it depends".

"There's a fictional Superman and a real Superman. And the fictional Superman is an alien from Planet Krypton. He grew up in Kansas. He's chronically Christian, usually Methodist or Protestant. He's not Jewish... But there's also a real Superman, which is a fictional character in the real world, in our world, and that character is very Jewish", he argued.

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