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.