Venus in Furs

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
Venus in Furs
by Leopold von

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by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch Translated by Fernanda Savage
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Title: Venus in Furs
Author: Leopold von Sacher-Masoch Translated by Fernanda Savage
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Translated from the German

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was born in Lemberg, Austrian Galicia, on January 27,
1836. He studied jurisprudence at Prague and Graz, and in 1857 became a teacher at the
latter university. He published several historical works, but soon gave up his academic
career to devote himself wholly to literature. For a number of years he edited the
international review, Auf der Hohe, at Leipzig, but later removed to Paris, for he was
always strongly Francophile. His last years he spent at Lindheim in Hesse, Germany,
where he died on March 9, 1895. In 1873 he married Aurora von Rumelin, who wrote a
number of novels under the pseudonym of Wanda von Dunajew, which it is interesting to
note is the name of the heroine of Venus in Furs. Her sensational memoirs which have
been the cause of considerable controversy were published in 1906.
During his career as writer an endless number of works poured from Sacher-Masoch's
pen. Many of these were works of ephemeral journalism, and some of them unfortunately
pure sensationalism, for economic necessity forced him to turn his pen to unworthy ends.
There is, however, a residue among his works which has a distinct literary and even
greater psychological value. His principal literary ambition was never completely
fulfilled. It was a somewhat programmatic plan to give a picture of contemporary life in
all its various aspects and interrelations under the general title of the Heritage of Cain.
This idea was probably derived from Balzac's Comedie Humaine. The whole was to be
divided into six subdivisions with the general titles Love, Property, Money, The State,
War, and Death. Each of these divisions in its turn consisted of six novels, of which the

last was intended to summarize the author's conclusions and to present his solution for
the problems set in the others.
This extensive plan remained unachieved, and only the first two parts, Love and Property,
were completed. Of the other sections only fragments remain. The present novel, Venus
in Furs, forms the fifth in the series, Love.
The best of Sacher-Masoch's work is characterized by a swift narration and a graphic
representation of character and scene and a rich humor. The latter has made many of his
shorter stories dealing with his native Galicia little masterpieces of local color.
There is, however, another element in his work which has caused his name to become as
eponym for an entire series of phenomena at one end of the psycho-sexual scale. This
gives his productions a peculiar psychological value, though it cannot be denied also a
morbid tinge that makes them often repellent. However, it is well to remember that nature
is neither good nor bad, neither altruistic nor egoistic, and that it operates through the
human psyche as well as through crystals and plants and animals with the same
inexorable laws.
Sacher-Masoch was the poet of the anomaly now generally known as masochism. By this
is meant the desire on the part of the individual affected of desiring himself completely
and unconditionally subject to the will of a person of the opposite sex, and being treated
by this person as by a master, to
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