The novel Arbeit (1903: Work) by Ilse Frapan (1848–1908) provoked widespread outrage for its depiction of the medical profession in Zurich. 1 Else Jerusalem’s Der heilige Skarabäus (1908: transl. as The Red House) also created a furore, and is sometimes misremembered as a pornographic novel as a result of being set in a brothel. 2 In both novels, the emancipation of a prominent female protagonist is closely connected with the protagonist’s work for social justice for marginalized groups, for Frapan the working classes, for Jerusalem, prostitutes. Social questions and literary ones coincide in these works, which respond simultaneously to literary antecedents and political debates. For Jerusalem, a sympathetic depiction of prostitutes as damaged young women longing for a decent family life combats the image of fictional femmes fatales — one thinks of the eponymous protagonist of Émile Zola’s Nana (1880). Frapan’s fictional representation of a mature female medical student sets itself apart from narratives focused on love or sexual liberation, and suggests that women’s empathy will contribute effectively in the medical profession to combatting the social problems of modernity, more so than a male over-reliance on science and reason.