Psychoanalyst and author Lou Andreas-Salomé may seem to be a figure remote from us, one belonging to a pre-1914 Europe, but in many ways, she is our contemporary. She travelled in a highly romantic world as socialite, sociologist, and author. She was part of Georg Simmel’s salon, the most exclusive in Berlin, frequented by elusive poet Stefan Georg, dramatist Paul Ernst, social theorist and polymath Max Weber, and Georg Lukács, among others.
Salomé’s unique contribution to the erotic was that she argued sexual difference ran deeper than economics and equality—the politics of Marx and the ideals of the French Revolution. For Salomé, to think about women and their erotic nature, you must start with their biological and psychological difference, not their economic situation.
Salomé was an outstanding theorist. Her books on Nietzsche and on Rilke are major studies. The field of psychoanalysis would not have developed in the way it did without Lou Andreas-Salomé. We cannot understand Freud’s "rationalism" or his anti-religious sensibility without Salomé’s writings. This new English translation is an essential text of psychoanalysis, one that shaped the very conception of the field.
“For many, this first English translation of Die Erotik may serve as an introduction to Andreas-Salomé, who was unquestionably one of the most interesting, original, and erudite intellectuals of her day. . . . [Die Erotik] is a philosophical and psychological reflection on the meaning and purpose of the erotic in our lives and how it is this primal force that simultaneously serves to connect us to the most basic and most transcendent aspects of our existence. . . . In this brief but important essay, Andreas-Salomé captures the essence of the erotic as a unifying force that serves as the grounding of our humanity. . . . The Erotic is not just an essential text of psychoanalysis: It is more than that and can stand on its own as an important and insightful text that would seem to be as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.”
—James M. Hepburn, PsycCRITIQUES
“The publication at last of Lou Andreas-Salomé’s book, Die Erotik (1910), in English is very welcome. Also welcome is the book’s introduction by Gary Winship detailing Andreas-Salomé’s close involvement with Nietzsche, Rilke, and Freud; her ethic of ‘sexual continence’ and ‘mental eroticism’; and her pioneering account of the erotic as less a matter of ‘interior pleasure’ than as a way of establishing relations with others.”
—Janet Sayers, emeritus professor of psychoanalytic psychology, University of Kent in Canterbury; author, Mothers of Psychoanalysis
“Until a few years ago I only knew of Lou Andreas-Salomé from her letters to Freud and her psychoanalytic writing on female sexuality. I did not realize that at the time she met Freud she was more famous (and infamous) than him and had published more widely. With a compelling introduction by Gary Winship, the translation and publication of Die Erotik shows why a writer so deeply concerned with the politics of sexuality was destined to become such an important innovator in psychoanalysis; a source of inspiration and judicious criticism for Freud and one of his most intimate friends and collaborators.”
—Ivan Ward, director of education, Freud Museum
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Table of Contents
Matthew Del Nevo
Introduction to Die Erotik: Nietzsche, Lou Andreas-Salomé, and Psychoanalysis
Die Erotik [The Erotic]
Translated by John Crisp