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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic novel describing a morbid manifestation of love
Those interested in abnormal psychology will find this a "must" book. It is a tribute to the open-mindedness of modern publishing that such an extreme text which was for so long out of print and unavailable in English, is here offered to the reader at a knock-down price. Even the most casual reader cannot avoid being at once fascinated and repelled by the...
Published on 23 Jan 2001

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did not live up to my high hopes!
I'm choosey about any erotica and had heard great things about this book. Whilst of interest to an erotica lover and interesting to dip into, I was disappointed and found the book didn't live up to my expectations although it was interesting and sensual. I'm still a bit undecided and think I might have to give it one or two more reads. If you're interested in sensuality...
Published on 19 May 2012 by Caroline


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic novel describing a morbid manifestation of love, 23 Jan 2001
By A Customer
Those interested in abnormal psychology will find this a "must" book. It is a tribute to the open-mindedness of modern publishing that such an extreme text which was for so long out of print and unavailable in English, is here offered to the reader at a knock-down price. Even the most casual reader cannot avoid being at once fascinated and repelled by the graphic descriptions of morbid yearnings never satisfied despite beatings, humiliations and tortures to soul and body. The painting about which Sacher-Masoch dreamed so vividly and to which frequent reference is made throughout the text is officially titled "Venus with a Mirror" by Titian, and perhaps it would have been preferable if the front cover image more nearly reflected this source of the author's inspiration. Might I suggest that the prospective book-buyer would be well advised to read in addition or instead, the arguably more accomplished books by Madame de Morville, titled La Dominatrice, Slaves of Isis, and The Chateau, to name but three.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "In love not given lightly....", 16 Oct 2010
Its difficult to truly describe a book such as this. I originally wanted to read it after learning that we get the word masochism from the author's name, being a creature of research I also purchased the complete works of the Marquis de Sade but that's a review for another time. I fell in love with this book, when early on I came upon this quote,

"Love knows no virtue, no profit; it loves and forgives and suffers everything, because it must. It is not our judgment that leads us; it is neither the advantages nor the faults which we discover that make us abandon ourselves or that repel us.
It is a sweet, soft, enigmatic power that drives us on. We cease to think, to feel, to will; we let ourselves be carried away by it, and ask not whither."

Utterly beautifully put. The main character Severin (heavily influenced from the authors own life) can become annoying with his devotion at time, but I look upon him with the eyes of a Mistress and not as someone that feels his plight. I also recommend listening to "Venus in Furs" by The Velvet Underground, also Dave Navarro does a great cover version.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'If you can't be a decent, faithful wife, then be a devil', 9 Aug 2007
By 
Sarah Durston (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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'Venus in Furs' is the story of Severin von Kusiemski, a young man who falls passionately in love (or lust?, you decide) with a flame-haired beauty called Wanda von Dunajew. Initially he wants Wanda to be his wife but says that, if she is unable to commit in this way, he will become her slave to do with as she will.

This is a story about sexual obsession, cruelty and humiliation, and although it was written in the late nineteenth century the psychological power of the novel is still pretty shocking. (Just as an aside, if you are reading this for its pornographic content, you might be better looking elsewhere!) It becomes even more fascinating when you read the introduction and find that much of the novel mirrors Sacher-Masoch's life!

An interesting and thought provoking read.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tender, loving but brutal. One mans ideal?, 25 July 2006
By 
Chris Chalk "Chris" (Croydon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This 19th Century classic seems to be considered the beginning of sexual exploration within the mainstream, indeed it is considered that its author Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch gave his name to masochism (although not consciously).

The story is told through a journal of one man: Severin von Kusiemski, a man of good standing within the community but who harbours a deep routed desire to become the slave of a goddess wearing fur. His choice coining her the Venus in Furs is no coincidence for he worships at statues of Venus herself and when he stumbles upon Wanda von Dunajew he feels his search is at an end.

Wanda is for me the far more fascinating of the two characters and arguable would have been a far more interesting character to use as the point of view for this novel. She has depth through the need to explore a chilling dark side that before Severin she was unaware of but you get the feeling that whole time this dark side is a façade, a front that doesn't truly exist and in fact it is her submitting to Severin in her quest to make him happy. This paradox explodes wonderfully towards the end of the book and (for me) you truly see how unprepared Severin is for the path he has chosen, Wanda concocts one last punishment for Severin but again you can clearly see the great love that has gone into doing just that - a women unhappy in her role but seemingly unwilling not to continue for fear of losing the man she loves, until finally he pushes her too far.

I felt the pace of the book was off, we fall far too quickly into the depraved relationship without enough of the build up work, it's like passing your driving test and hoping into a Ferrari - no satisfaction if you can't prang the Metro first. I also felt that oddly the writing of Severin to be a little stunted as well, if you consider this to be deliberate to show how the author feels so much more for Wanda than for himself it can be explained but even so it can be a little disappointing.

I can honestly say I truly enjoyed this novel and not just for the historically significance of the work, but for the tenderness and care that Sacher-Masoch (some what clumsily at times) attempts to instil in the relationship between the books two chief protagonists. Could it have been better? Absolutely. Are today's books on the same subject far more graphic? I would imagine so. Is this worth the read? Definitely, I doubt many works of this subject matter could come close to Sacher-Masoch's work, no matter how rough round the edges it may be.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars derivation of the term "masochism", 25 July 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Venus in Furs (Paperback)
_Venus in Furs, a Novel: Letters of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Emilie Mataja_ by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch contains the both the story "Venus in Furs" and a selection of letters between Sacher-Masoch and budding writer, Emilie Mataja.

"Venus in Furs" is about a man who is obsessed with having his new mistress treat him like a slave. In particular, he wants her to become his ideal "venus in furs" and begs her to don furs and wield a whip against him. His desire to be treated as such is tested when she convinces him to sign an agreement to be her slave. The story is well-written, and one becomes drawn into the misery experienced by the man as his mistress becomes progressively more cruel.

The letters between Sacher- Masoch and Mataja show Sacher-Masoch's inability at times to separate his fiction from his real life. Sacher-Masoch speaks of his married life and encourages Mataja in her writing, but his
professional encouragement is shot through with requests to meet Mataja so that he can be whipped by her while she is wearing fur.

Although there are certainly more graphically erotic examples present in current fiction, this book is a must read for those wanting to know why Sacher-Masoch's writings inspired Krafft-Ebing to create the term "masochism."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did not live up to my high hopes!, 19 May 2012
I'm choosey about any erotica and had heard great things about this book. Whilst of interest to an erotica lover and interesting to dip into, I was disappointed and found the book didn't live up to my expectations although it was interesting and sensual. I'm still a bit undecided and think I might have to give it one or two more reads. If you're interested in sensuality through history this could be worthwhile to see how it's handled. Overall worth a go, but there are other's in the genre which stand out more. Sorry to be harsh.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The start of a genre...., 25 April 2008
You can guess the subject matter from the authors name, Masoch. Of course the masochism is not as explicit as one might expect due to the times it was written, but the psychological aspects are all there. The eroticism is veiled but still intense. There is some whip use for fans of this genre though! Essentially it is a story of Severin's obsessive love for the sumptuous Wanda, and the self inflicted degradation it entails. He feels the only way he can express his love is through suffering, and this is where all the psychological and physical games begin. Severin becomes her slave, she gives him a new name and humiliates him. Then to "Gregor's" dismay she takes a new lover....and things get out of control. Worth looking at the graphic novel by Guido Crepax too. A true classic!
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4.0 out of 5 stars "You have corrupted my imagination and inflamed my blood...", 30 Jan 2014
This review is from: Venus in Furs (Kindle Edition)
When you enter into the world of Venus in Furs you must try and place yourself within the time of the novel's original publication. In 1870 this was revolutionary, just as Lady Chatterley's Lover was for its time, and the term Sadomasochism was borne from Sacher-Masoch and his work. It took a dear friend reminding me this for the content of the book to have any impact as, of course, by modern, sexually liberated, standards this is fairly tame.

However what really gripped me concerning this novella was the writing style, which I found both honest and lyrical. There is a real grasp of the English language there, turning something of which I have little to no knowledge into something entrancing to read about, simply by use of words, flowing into one another, painting an intricate, excruciatingly detailed picture.

Overall I'd say this is far more satisfying a read than Chatterley, and well worth your time, whether interested in the world of Sadomasochism or not. For the prose alone I can recommend. Sacher-Masoch could have taught E.L James a lesson or two in the art of ink and pen, that's for sure.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Venus in Furs, 21 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Venus in Furs (Paperback)
This is a really great publication. It is well-written and remains a classic of its genre. It is definitely worth reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The archetype of masochism: defining or misleading?, 11 Jun 2012
For generations of readers and thinkers, Sacher-Masoch's novel (1870) has defined the archetype of masochism. Countless psychologists and philosophers have turned to this text in search of the quintessence of the 'perversion' that has taken his name. But is this equation helpful? In a way it may be profoundly misleading. Yes, the book contains a potent iconography of masochism: whips, furs, cruel dominant women, slavery. Sacher-Masoch certainly pressed the buttons that made the senses zing. But it is all embedded in very 19th century notions and assumptions about masculinity, marriage, contracts, and the way that power works in bourgeois society. This is not an exposition of universal erotic types. In fact we may need to free masochism from the turgid hand of Sacher-Masoch to understand masochism better. (More on this in a full review in my blog: colorsofpassion.net) Having said that, the book contains wonderful insights into certain profound yearnings and paradoxes of masochism. You have to dig hard and read carefully to grasp them because the book is stylistically tortuous and at times almost unreadable. The sexual episodes are rare and cloaked in euphemisms. As one critic put it: "No one has ever gone so far with so little offense to decency". It is more about the mind than the erotic body. Just one example. The novel illustrates a fundamental paradox of masochism. Sacher-Masoch desires to be the utterly powerless and abject slave of his mistress surrendering all rights and choice. But he ALSO wants to determine the outcome! He wants her to love him, be cruel to him, and spend time deliciously abusing him. ("Be a tyrant, be a despot, but be mine forever"...... "Do as you will with me, only never send me away!") He does NOT want her to say, "Thanks very much. Now go and live on bread and water in my coal shed and don't talk to me, you pathetic wretch!", which is effectively what Wanda does once Severin signs the contract that delivers him to her absolute control. Why would she want to spend her time with a servile toe-rag? She wants a REAL man! It is remarkable that Sacher-Masoch can look these things so directly in the eye, especially when he fell into all the traps he depicts in his own life! [See the autobiography of his wife, Wanda!Confessions of Wanda]

The Penguin translation is too 'modern' for my taste. I prefer the more traditional (more accurate) earlier translation of 1971 reprinted in Gilles Deleuze book Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty & Venus in Furs which has more of a feel of the period and also contains a fascinating philosophical and psychological analysis by Deleuze.
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Venus in Furs
Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (Paperback - 1 Jan 1990)
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