Chapter: You Can't Go Home Again: Mobility and Abjection in Lou Andreas-Salomé's Amor in Lou Andreas-Salomè, la scrittura e il pensiero by
Publication Date: 2019
Introductory Paragraph: Lou Andreas-Salorne's depictions of women at the turn of the twentieth century are varied, complex, and exploratory rather than conclusive. Although she would seem in her essay Der Mensch als Weib to reduce the plurality of women to a type, a theoretical fiction, implying a common female experience grounded in biology, she counters that in her novels and stories by offering the reader a wide array of different female characters with diverse goals, desires, and understandings of what femininity means in the contemporary moment'. The sheer variety of female protagonists one encounters in her works, from the eponymous heroine of Ruth (1895) to Adina of Eine Ausschweifung (Deviations, 1898) and Gitta of Das Haus (The House, 1921), points to a fluidity of perspective that embraces rather than reduces complexity, ambiguities, and contradictions, and thus to the impossibility of defining 'woman' as a completely coherent and reliable category'. This is not just the case for her depictions of women and femininity. She treats her male characters and masculinity with a similar subtlety, depth, and variety. It is also not simply the case that she offers a plurality of types. Rather, she offers individual characters who waver, are uncertain, feel pulled in different directions, and struggle with the identity scripts available to them.
Author: Muriel Cormican, Professor and Chair, Modern Language Studies