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Mixed FeelingsTropes of Love in German Jewish Culture$
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Katja Garloff

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501704963

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501704963.001.0001

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Eros and Thanatos in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna

Eros and Thanatos in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna

Sigmund Freud, Otto Weininger, Arthur Schnitzler

(p.126) 5 Eros and Thanatos in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna
Mixed Feelings

Katja Garloff

Cornell University Press

This chapter considers a locale famously fraught with questions of sex, love, and identity: turn-of-the-century Vienna. Vienna was the birthplace of psychoanalysis and a center of the crisis of modern Jewish identity, especially after the election of an openly antisemitic mayor in 1895. While Sigmund Freud maintained a resonant silence about Jewish-Gentile attractions, several bedfellows of psychoanalysis explicitly thematize such attractions. In his highly influential philosophy of sexuality, Sex and Character (1903), Otto Weininger rejects love as a model for Jewish-Gentile rapprochement in favor of a radical Jewish self-transformation, or rather, self-annihilation. The chapter reads Arthur Schnitzler's novel The Road into the Open (1908), which draws an analogy between a Gentile's uneven friendship with a Jewish writer and his love affair with a woman from a lower social class, as a critique of Weininger's philosophical tract. Whereas Weininger can accept Jewish assimilation only as a form of suicidal striving, Schnitzler depicts assimilation as a mutual, quasi-erotic exchange across open boundaries. Against Freud's conspicuous silence about and Weininger's vehement rejection of Jewish-Gentile love, Schnitzler advances a vision of Jewish integration in which Eros has a place.

Keywords:   Vienna, sex, love, identity, Otto Weininger, Arthur Schnitzler, Jewish identity, antisemitism, Sigmund Freud

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