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Venus in Furs by sacher masoch

Venus in Furs (original 1870; edition 1932)

by sacher masoch

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1,054137,976 (3.55)32
Title:Venus in Furs
Authors:sacher masoch
Info:william faro. inc (1932), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:Mainstream, VR

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Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1870)


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Will write a formal review at a later time, still digesting!
  XoVictoryXo | May 31, 2016 |
Classic. Underrated even in Decadent circles: I just consulted my old Mario Praz, The Romantic Agony, an inventory of Romantic and late-Romantic works on the theme of cruelty and the femme fatale -- Sacher-Masoch occurs twice in the index. What? There's how I let this one go by, when I was half the age I am and into late 19thC decadent fiction. From memory I read descriptions that put me off. I'm sad about that. On the other hand, I now discover an instant personal classic.

I think it's a wonderful book. Funny often, scary when things get out of hand. Well-told, so that several reviews say they couldn't put it down (neither could I). Well-written, with the lyrical effusions and philosophic ramblings of its era and subject present but under control. And its two mains, Severin and Wanda, are not stand-ins but fleshed-out creations, human, endearingly uncertain of whether or not they are serious about this enslavement idea in the first half ('Are you being serious?' 'Well, are you?'); subject to misgivings; with moments of cowardice on Severin's part, and when Wanda gets over-serious, you can read between Severin's lines and see her feelings have been mortified. The author does not conflate himself with Severin, even though he uses his life experiences -- he too took this train journey in a third-class carriage as his mistress' servant, under the same typical servant name. While we're here, I noticed that the ennobled Severin, at first horrified to be among the plebs and foreigners, finds them undisgusting human beings. Sacher-Masoch was a socialist, I saw afterwards.

Yes, Severin is 'cured' in the end of his yearnings to be whipped by a woman who espouses a bold Greek paganism and liberty from Christian constraints (let us acknowledge Wanda). But Don Quixote was cured in the end, and who believes that? One has to wrap these tales up piously, to keep the convention police off your back. Then the reader is left to judge the interlocutors' final statements, and exercise discretion as to what they themselves call the 'moral of the story'. ( )
  Jakujin | Apr 27, 2016 |
From a certain literary perspective, "Venus in Furs" is a failure of a novel. Two rich, excessively cultured Europeans go on and on in a stiff, maddeningly formal tone, discecting their relationship and their complexes while neglecting to take their clothes off. It doesn't sound like a good time, does it?. But "Venus in Furs" is an accomplishment of sorts: while it can't be said to be a complete description of human sexuality, it provides a pretty good analysis of one very particular corner of it. Maybe you need to live there already to get it, but it's all there: the curious, paradoxical mixture of self-abnegation and egoism that drives most masochists, the combination of fear and intense desire that drives men who prefer a certain kind of strong-willed woman, and a general preference for extremes and drama. Modern readers may quibble with the author's take on the female character (inconstant, flighty) or race relations (decidedly exoticist), but it's hard to argue that he didn't know the terrain of his own desire. And desire's what this one's all about, really. The novel's by turns sumptous and shockingly physical, but its focus never strays much from the topic of beauty, even if it's a sort of beauty that's, ahem, somewhat unconventional. It's clear that the author, precious has he might be, doesn't just get a sexual thrill from seeing Wanda, the domme herself, bedecked in fur, but also real aesthetic pleasure: his references to European master painters aren't there by accident. Wanda herself is also a more comoplex character than one might expect. She's often very conscious of her own pleasure, the book asks whether Severin created her -- like a sexual version of Frankenstein's monster -- or if the games that they play merely brought out some dormant facet of her personality. Anyway, she never hesitates to call Severin's bluff, challenging him in ways that he finds both unconfortable and less than sexy. There's no "topping from below" from Wanda. The translation of my version seemd a good one, too: its lush and suitably ornate while maintaining a trace of what I'd like to imagine is a little Teutonic rigor. In a few scenes, the novel hits a perfect balance between sexy and cold-bloodedly terrifying. "Memorable" doesn't even begin to describe them. Finally, I got the sense that "Venus in Furs" is a better novel than it strictly has to be. The author probably deserves our praise for taking a subject that's ripe for cheap exploitation and writing a quality novel about it instead. It's recommended to a certain audience, and you know who you are. Perverts, suprasensualits, and raincoat-wearing sex creeps: this one's for you. ( )
2 vote TheAmpersand | Oct 15, 2015 |
Due to the study « Psychopathia sexualis » of the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, « Venus im Pelz » came into an unwarranted imbalance. More than a hundred years after this novel was written, there is a broad knowledge regarding the different types of sexual experiences. Deviations of the so called « Normal » are of low social acceptance. But persons, who like to play sexual games, will have no scruples trying out the harmless proposals given by Ritter Leopold.
1 vote hbergander | Dec 10, 2013 |
Review contains spoilers

Venus in furs was originally published in 1870. I'm unsure when the translation I read was published, but there's an introduction dated 1921, so maybe that is an indication. It never ceases to amaze me how modern in language and treatment theme older novels can be. Having said that, some themes in the novel seem antiquated to modern western society.

I understand the term masochism was inspired by the author's name. The type of masochism and sadism the main characters in the novel exhibit is based on an entirely different underlying premise now than it was then. Whereas Severin and Wanda are proclaimed to be naturally at war as a result of their being of the opposite sexes, and this situation is seen as fixed until in a changed society men and women are given equal opportunities and treatment in daily life and in their upbringing and education, for most societies nowadays, this equality of the genders is a fact of life. To submit to another's dominance or sadism thus takes on an entirely flavour for modern masochist/submissive than it did in Von Sacher-Masoch's time.

What makes the novel even more amazing, is that it is the male Severin who wishes to submit to the female Wanda, and that she, for various reasons, agrees to dominate him. Both characters step out of society's expected gender roles, and assume the opposite roles. Not easily however; there is lots of soul searching, doubts, uncertainty, fear, on both sides both before and during their enterprising scheme. And afterwards, all doubts are miraculously 100% removed. Wanda has submitted to her new lover Alexis. Severin is entirely cured of his masochistic wishes and in his newer contacts he assumes a domineering role.

The 'bdsm' portrayed in this novel is of the experimental kind. Nothing safe, sane, consensual here. The mention of elements like ownership, total power exchange, kneeling, serving another, whipping will not surprise the reader of a modern bdsm novel. And I shouldn't wonder if this is the novel we have to thank for the notion of a 'slavery contract', including a need for ritualistic signing and negotiations on the terms of the contract. The slave contract drawn up is a hardcore contract. Severin agrees to even lose his life should Wanda wish it so. Gasp. Several other hair raising, skin crawling elements are presented more or less casually as well. Would modern masochist like to be whipped till it bled, for instance? I don't think so.

Wanda in fact may be the most interesting character in the novel. I'm unclear as to her motivation for agreeing to dominate Severin. She seems to be enjoying herself rather too much at several points to believe that assuming this role is a playful experiment for her, or just a way to fight boredom and amuse herself, or even to set out to 'cure' Severin of this needs, as she declares later. She brings to her role enough imagination and stamina to question her statement at several places that she does not want to dominate but seeks to be dominated herself in a relationship.

What also makes this novel different from most modern bdsm novels is that the main characters do not have sex with each other. She wears furs, he sometimes tries to kiss her feet, he bathes her once, but nothing more. For the larger part of time they interact like chaste friends, or brother and sister, discussing art, literature, taking long walks. So wholesome!

The writing style and tempo of the novel are excellent. There is some repetition of thoughts, premises, sentences. So much so that the novel begins and ends with the same thought. Leaving this reader with the suspicion that the rationale for writing the novel was not to publish a raunchy tale about masochism and dominance, but to promote equality between genders.

Recommended! ( )
2 vote Bluerabella | Dec 1, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leopold von Sacher-Masochprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mackensen, GerdIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savage, FernandaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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God did punish him. and deliver him into the hands of a woman.

- Judith 16:7
First words
My company was charming.
"If the foundation of marriage depends on equality and agreement, it is likewise true that the greatest passions rise out of opposites. We are such opposites, almost enemies. That is why my love is part hate, part fear. In such a relation only one can be hammer and the other anvil. I wish to be the anvil. I cannot be happy when I look down upon the woman I love. I want to adore a woman, and this I can only do when she is cruel towards me."
"I really believe," said Wanda thoughtfully, "that your madness is nothing but a demonic, unsatisfied sensuality. Our unnatural way of life must generate such illnesses. Were you less virtuous, you would be completely sane."
Never feel secure with the woman you love, for there are more dangers in woman's nature than you imagine. Women are neither as good as their admirers and defenders maintain, nor as bad as their enemies make them out to be. Woman's character is characterlessness. The best woman will momentarily go down into the mire, and the worst unexpectedly rises to deeds of greatness and goodness and puts to shame those that despise her. No woman is so good or so bad, but that an any moment she is capable of the most diabolical as well as of the most divine, of the filthiest as well as of the purest, thoughts, emotions, and actions.
"I believe," she said, "that to hold a man permanently, it is vitally important not to be faithful to him. What honest woman has ever been as devotedly loved as a hetaira?"
A slap in the face is more effective than ten lectures. It makes you understand very quickly, especially when the instruction is by the way of a small woman's hand.
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This work contains only "Venus in furs"--please don't combine it with editions containing other stories, or graphic novel adaptations.
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Book description
Venus in Furs describes the obsessions of Severin von Kusiemski, a European nobleman who desires to be enslaved to a woman. Severin finds his ideal of voluptuous cruelty in the merciless Wanda von Dunajew. This is a passionate and powerful portrayal of one man's struggle to enlighten and instruct himself and others in the realm of desire. Published in 1870, the novel gained notoriety and a degree of immortality for its author when the word "masochism"—derived from his name—entered the vocabulary of psychiatry. This remains a classic literary statement on sexual submission and control.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140447814, Paperback)

Venus in Furs describes the obsessions of Severin von Kusiemski, a European nobleman who desires to be enslaved to a woman. Severin finds his ideal of voluptuous cruelty in the merciless Wanda von Dunajew. This is a passionate and powerful portrayal of one man's struggle to enlighten and instruct himself and others in the realm of desire. Published in 1870, the novel gained notoriety and a degree of immortality for its author when the word "masochism"—derived from his name—entered the vocabulary of psychiatry. This remains a classic literary statement on sexual submission and control.

@SacherMasochist As the domination increases the limit of sensuality approaches infinity. Math joke. Eat that, Leibniz.

From Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:21 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Venus in Furs opens with Severin, a young and wealthy Galician, who has a dark sexual fantasy: he wants a lover who will whip him into submission. When he meets a woman willing to fulfil that desire, reality starts to blur into fantasy, and Severin wonders if he can come out alive... The sensual and riveting Venus in Furs was a visionary novella of its time, and continues to fascinate readers today. It has joined the ranks of Momentum's Classic Erotica series.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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