Jews and Gender

Responses to Otto Weininger

Edited by Barbara Hyams, and Nancy A. Harrowitz
Book Cover

PB: $43.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-249-5
Publication: Dec 94

HC: $91.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-248-8
Publication: Dec 94

352 pages
6 x 9
1 halftones

International scholars examine the legacy of a turn-of-the-century self-hating Austrian Jew

Read Chapter 1 (pdf).


In 1903 Otto Weininger, A Viennese Jew who converted to Protestantism, published Geschiecht und Charakter (Sex and Character), a book in which he set out to prove the moral inferiority and character deficiency of "the woman" and "the Jew." Almost immediately, he was acclaimed as a young genius for bringing these two elements together. Shortly thereafter, at the age of twenty-three, Weininger committed suicide in the room where Beethoven had died. Weininger's sensationalized death immortalized him as an intellectual who expressed the abject misogyny and antisemitism.

This collection of essays, many translated into English for the first time, examines Weininger's influence and reception in Western culture, particularly his impact on important writers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, and James Joyce. One essay considers the ways Weininger's ideas were used to further Nazi ideology, and several offer feminist approaches to interpreting the intersection of antisemitism and misogyny. The concluding essay explores Weininger's surprising role in Israel's ongoing sociopolitical self-definition through the bold production of Joshua Sobol's play, "The Soul of a Jew (Weininger's Last Night)."

This volume 's close examination of Weininger's ideas, and their subsequent appearance in other well-known texts, suggests how the legacies of prejudice affect Western culture today.

Table of Contents


Part I: Introduction
1. A Critical Introduction to the History of Weininger Reception – Barbara Hyams and Nancy A. Harrowitz
2. "The Otto Weininger Case" Revisited – Jacques Le Rider
3. Fragments from Weininger's Education (1895-1902) – Hannelore Rodlauer

Part II: In Context
4. How Did Weininger Influence Wittgenstein? – Allan Janik
5. Weininger and Lombroso: A Question of Influence – Nancy A. Harrowitz
6. Otto Weininger as Liberal? – Steven Beller
7. Otto Weininger and Sigmund Freud: Race and Gender in the Shaping of Psychoanalysis – Sander L. Gilman
8. Characterology: Weininger and Austrian Popular Science – Katherine Arens
9. Otto Weininger and the Critique of Jewish Masculinity – John M. Hoberman
10. Weininger and Nazi Ideology – Barbara Hyams

Part III: Weininger and Modern Literature
11. A Scientific Image of Woman? The Influence of Otto Weininger's Sex and Character on the German Novel – Gisela Brude-Firnau
12. Weininger in a Poem by Apollinaire – Jeffrey Mehlman
13. Kafka and Weininger – Gerald Stieg
14. Weininger and the Bloom of Jewish Self-Hatred in Joyce's Ulysses – Marilyn Reizbaum
15. James Joyce's Womanly Wandering Jew – Natania Rosenfeld
16. Molly Is Sexuality: The Weiningerian Definition of Woman in Joyce's Ulysses – Elfriede Pöder
17. Svevo and Weininger (Lord Morton's Mare) – Alberto Cavaglion
18. Whores, Mothers, and Others: Reception of Otto Weininger's Sex and Character in Elias Canetti's Auto-Da-Fé – Kristie A. Foell
19. Memory and History: The Soul of a Jew by Jehoshua Sobol – Freddie Rokem

Works Cited
Notes on the Contributors

About the Author(s)

Nancy A. Harrowitz is author of Antisemitism, Misogyny and the Logic of Cultural Difference: Cesare Lombroso and Matilde Serao and editor of Tainted Greatness: Antisemitism and Cultural Heroes (Temple).

Barbara Hyams is Lecturer with the rank of Assistant Professor of German at Brandeis University.