Who was the first literary schlub?

We were talking about Ted Heller / Sam Lipsyte (also here), whose books feature a similar lovable-loser character, someone who’s basically a good person but has some larceny and lust in his heart and can’t always be relied on to do the right thing. More of a Jerry Seinfeld than a Philip Marlowe or Humphrey Bogart or Clint Eastwood or Jim Rockford, if you know what I mean. (I’d say “more of a Larry David,” except that (a) these schlubs are fat, and Larry David is thin, and (b) these schlubs may be a bit smug, but they’re not in love with themselves in the way that the Larry David character presents himself.)

As I put it the other day, Heller/Lipsyte write about the same character: an physically unattractive, mildly talented, borderline unethical schlub from New Jersey, a guy in his thirties or forties who goes through life powered by a witty resentment toward those who are more successful than him. A character who thinks a lot about his wife and about his friends his age, but never his parents or siblings. (A sort of opposite character from fellow Jerseyite Philip Roth / Nathan Zuckerman, whose characters tended to be attractive, suave, and eternally focused on the families of their childhoods. Indeed, the Heller/Lipsyte character is the sort of irritating pest who Roth/Zuckerman is always trying to shake off.)

Anyway, here’s my question: What’s the original of this character, the template that Heller and Lipsyte are working off?

I’m not sure. The schlub character seems like a trope: when I read those Heller and Lipsyte books—which I very much enjoyed, by the way—the character seemed familiar to me. But now I can’t think of any predecessors. For example, I don’t think of Gordon Comstock as a schlub in this way: for one thing, he’s not from New Jersey, for another, I picture him as being thin—like Orwell himself! Unattractive, unappealing in many ways, sure, but not the Heller/Lipsyte schlub. Yossarian? I picture him as being attractive, dashing, even, in his flight jacket. Saul Bellow’s characters? Sure, they have problems, and some of them are pretty desperate, but I picture them as thin as well.

I think there must be a history of schlub characters, a paper trail of plump protagonists who can’t quite get their act together and who garner some sympathy and dramatic tension from their plights—but right now I can’t think of any of them. Can you?

P.S. Just For Fun: The Universal Genre Savvy Guide