Sunday, July 27, 2014

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch : Venus in furs

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Hence your intrepid reporter found himself recently pouring over the pages of a classic Victorian work of literature on sex and cruelty, or so it said on the cover. Venus in Furs was written by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch whose name would be, to most unknown. The Marquis De Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch have each bequeathed their names to two forms of eroticism in which pleasure and pain, voluptuousness and suffering are closely allied. De Sade took pleasure in the pain he inflicted where as Sacher- Masoch attained the same end by the pain he endured. Sadism and masochism are according to Freud, latently and repressed in each of us. We all have the capacity to be a sado-masochist without knowing it. Most people will know something about the Marquis de Sade, imprisoned for fifteen years for his beliefs, scorned by his contemporaries, and calumniated for nearly a century. Yet Sacher-Masoch is virtually unknown today, however during his life he enjoyed considerable fame as an author. So who was this man and what if anything does he have to do with feet?

Leopold Sacher-Masoch was born in 1836 to a family of senior officials. He had a happy childhood until one day whilst playing hide and seek with his sisters in his aunt's house, he witnessed the mistress of the house in a compromised position with her lover. Before the tender proceedings could progress the unsuspecting husband stumbled onto the scene. The poor fellow had no time to remonstrate with his unfaithful wife before the lady in question rose and took a whip to him until he promptly fled. Young Leopold keen to get a birds eye view gave away his hiding place in the wardrobe of fur coats and the startled women proceeded to deal him the same fate as her husband. The rough treatment was mingled with indescribable pleasure and from that day fourth, Sacher-Masoch discovered his inner fetish. As an adult he became a successful author with many of his erotic stories based on his own bazaar, private life. His plots were full of references to whips, high heeled shoes, fur and cruelty. Sacher-Masoch was the first person to write about kissing high heeled shoes after the Madame had used them to inflict degradation and pain. His wife at the height of his popularity criticised his writing saying his heroines were stereotypical, arrogant and dominant women. Sacher-Masoch pounced on the opportunity and promised to never write about such matters again provided his she gave him, daily whippings wearing nothing other than fur trimmings. Reluctantly she agreed and the sick man kept his promise by never writing about furs, whips and cruelties ever again.

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