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Monday, October 2, 2017

Venus in Furs (Fiction) (Psychology)

by Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 1, 2013)

Softcover 156 pages

Finished 10/1/2017

Amazon Listing

    “The more devoted a woman shows herself, the sooner he man sobers down and becomes domineering. The more cruelly she treats him and the more faithless she is, the worse she uses him, the more wantonly she plays with him, the less pity she shows him, by so much more will she increase his desire, be loved, worshipped by him. So it has always been, since the time of Helen and Delilah, down to Catherine the Second and Lola Montez.”
    The infamous work by Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch from whose name the term masochism or “the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from one's own pain or humiliation”  is derived. This work was the Fifty Shades of Grey of its time. This was meant to be part of a six volume epic cycle called the Legacy of Cain. Each of the volumes was to have six novellas attached, but like The Canterbury Tales the author never completed the series.
    It is told in a framing story. That is, a story within a story, as the entire tale is being related to an unnamed narrator by his friend, Severin. It is interesting that Von Sacher-Masoch took pains to distance himself from the material and there seems to be little evidence that he himself was a masochist. It is simply an irony of fate that this predilection is named after him. In fact the story discourages such activity, likening it to a madness that one needs to be cured of. 
Author Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch
    Severin meets a beautiful woman Wanda (modeled after writer Fanny Piston) with whom he falls madly in love. She states she cannot fall in love with any man longer than a month, unless he dominates her completely, treating her as a servant and controlling her every action. The problem is that the author gains his greatest sexual thrill over being humiliated and whipped. He tells her, begs her, to dominate him, to treat him like dirt, to humiliate him in any was possible. He will treat her like a goddess and she will use him like an object. This continues on, growing in intensity, until she meets another man with whom she falls in love. He is a lion and dominates her to his will. As a final act of humiliation, she has Severin restrained and her new lover whips him into unconsciousness. After that he is broken from the spell and deems that no woman will ever have a hold over him again. 
The author and his inspiration Fanny Piston- as Venus in Furs

    In this case the protagonist's sexual appetites don’t merely extend to humiliation and whippings, but also include a fetish for furs. He manipulates Wanda into becoming his Goddess of Love wearing furs. Hence the title. It is interesting that she resists at first and then seems to grow into the part, a little too much.  There is often use of the term “supersenual” in the text, and the main failing of the protagonist is that he is “a supersenual man”. This isn’t a word used often in modern argot, if at all, and means a person who is carried away by his sensual dreams to the point where he is powerless not to act on it. A sexual fantasy that the person cannot resist. Thus even though the protagonist tires of the game, he cannot break away from his sexual enjoyment of it all.
    The author’s point, apart from titillation, is that a relationship between men and women cannot be equal. It is a constantly shifting power balance, and for a marriage to be successful one must take lead over the other. That lead should be taken by men, to the author most women crave to be mentally dominated and broken to a man's will. For the man this is not his source of pleasure, but it is his only chance for a peaceful household. 
Venus in Furs from the author's draft notes

           For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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