I have a side project which is a saga (and Dickens and Tolkien) influenced fantasy novel set in a country loosely based on Iceland and Norway in the Middle Ages with some 19th century elements ie. industrialisation. The protagonist of this story is a half-“troll” boy raised by a Faginesque dwarf-- named after Thorin Oakenshield (although I spell it as Thórinn to make it closer to the Icelandic original, Þórinn) and called the “King of Fences” in reference to the Tolkien character who was King Under The Mountain- in the slums who’s also a talented cutpurse. The dwarf takes in homeless kids and makes them pick a pocket or two to earn their keep.
When I was thinking it up it occurred to me how easy it is to create a dwarven character with Fagin’s traits (plus I haven’t seen many stories or RPG scenarios
-a lot of my friends play RPGs- with dwarvish criminals (although there are probably some out there.) The fantasy/mythological dwarf has many traits in common with an anti-Semitic caricature; huge hooked nose, ugliness, obsession with *gold gold gold, * cowardice greediness and miserliness. Of course Wagner’s dwarves are caricatures.
I’ve come across references to a theory that dwarves in folklore are based on anti-Semitic/anti-Jewish ideas and so that , but that sounds very off to me. First of all, AFAIK there was only a Jewish community in Denmark, Norway and Iceland (where most Norse mythology was preserved) during the 17th century (Sweden had one slightly earlier, according to Wikipedia.)
Norse myths involving dwarves were originally recorded in 13th century manuscripts and told in the 9th century. I think it’s more likely that anti-Semitic caricatures come from dwarves rather than the other way round.
Has anyone heard “mythological dwarves come from anti-Semitic stereotypes” before?