Although we usually think of the intellectual legacy of 20th-century Vienna as synonymous with Sigmund Freud and his psychoanalytic theories, other prominent writers from Vienna were also radically reconceiving sexuality and gender. In this new study, David S. Luft recovers the work of three such writers: Otto Weininger, Robert Musil and Heimito von Doderer. Weininger viewed human beings as bisexual and applied this theme to issues of creativity and morality. Robert Musil developed creative ethics that were closely related to his open, flexible view of sexuality and gender. And Heimito von Doderer portrayed his own sexual obsessions as a way of understanding the power of total ideologies, including his own attraction to National Socialism. For Luft, the significance of these three writers lies in their understandings of eros and inwardness and in the roles that both play in ethical experience and the formation of meaningful relations to the world - a process that continues to engage artists, writers and thinkers today. "Eros and Inwardness in Vienna" should change our understanding of Vienna's intellectual history. it should be important for anyone interested in Austrian or German history, literature or philosophy.
David S. Luft is a professor of history at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of "Robert Musil and the Crisis of European Culture" and the coeditor and cotranslator of Robert Musil's "Precision and Soul: Essays and Addresses," the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.