Love Hurts – “Venus in Furs” by Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch
“Venus in Furs” is a fascinating little story of love gone painfully wrong. Young Severin falls hard for the beautiful Wanda (who wears furs) and elevates her in his mind to the position of Venus in Furs. He loves her so deeply – “to madness,” he says several times – that when Wanda is unsure about becoming his wife, he proposes he would be her slave. Wanda takes him up on the offer, and the abuse and torture in the name of love begin. With Severin acting as Wanda’s slave “Gregor,” the two travel to Florence. There, Wanda meets a beautiful young Greek man and takes him as her new lover. After Wanda and the Greek humiliate him, Severin gives up, gets over it, and heads home.
The book ends with an older and wiser Severin looking back and realizing that “whoever allows himself to be whipped deserves to be whipped.”
After reading the book, I wondered about the author. It seemed a bit too focused to be merely a tale spun by a dude with a pen.
It took very little effort to discover that “Venus in Furs” isn’t really fiction. It’s actually based on true events in the author’s life and psyche. Von Sacher-Masoch himself acted as a slave to his lover (a Baroness!) for a six month period. (He’d later pressure his wife to act out the book, but she eventually had enough of that and took off.)
I also learned that the term “masochism” was taken from his last name. How’s that for a tribute? Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, author of “Psychopathia Sexualis,” one of the first books about sexual practices and fetishes, explained as follows: “…I feel justified in calling this sexual anomaly “Masochism,” because the author Sacher-Masoch frequently made this perversion, which up to his time was quite unknown to the scientific world as such, the substratum of his writings.”
Now personally, I’m not one for whips, but who am I to judge other people, right? The book is interesting and worth a read – and totally free in e-book edition on Amazon.com and other places. What have you got to lose?