Otto Weininger: Sex and Character. An Investigation of Fundamental Principles, Bloomington 2003<?

 

 

When Otto Weininger committed suicide in 1903 at the age of twenty-three a singularly brilliant albeit wayward mind was extinguished. A rabid misogynist, an anti-Semite despite his Jewish birth, a Kantian moralist with fascist leanings, Weininger combined in himself all the conflicting intellectual tendencies of his time.

 

His monumental treatise Sex and Character, published in Vienna in the year of his death, engages with all the issues that exercised European thinkers of the fin de sièecle: the biological foundations of gender, sexual diversity, male and female consciousness, the laws of attraction, the concept of genius, the gift of memory, the problem of the self, the woman question, the Jewish question, and many more – viewed from a muiltiplicity of angles: scientific, psychological, social, philosophical. Setting out as an empirical study, the volume ends in abstract idealistic speculation. It is as memorable for the originality of its author’s observations as for the absurdity of his judgments. With all its distortions it is an outstanding document of European intellectual history.

 

For a hundred years English readers were obliged to make do with an inadequate translation published in 1906. This new translation is the only complete and entirely reliable version that exists in English.

From the Reviews

"There are not that many great weird books. Sex and Character... is one of them. The appearance... of a definitive English translation ... is a major cultural event." Inside Higher Ed

"This long-awaited new translation of ... Sex and Character (1903), is simply splendid. Accurate, graceful, and complete—three qualities no other English translation can boast—it is light years beyond all previous translations." Choice

 

" If the goal was to make accessible to an English readership a fascinating source documenting Viennese attitudes towards sexuality, gender equality, modernity and Jews at the turn of the last century, the volume is a resounding success.” H-net Reviews

 

"In both fidelity and readability, [Löb’s] rendering of Sex and Character far exceeds William Heinemann's 1906 English edition. Whatever might draw us to Weininger ... Löb’s translation will serve us well." TLS