reading list.

5. Venus in Furs - Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch
"There is a deep joy in wrapping a beautiful woman into her furs, and in seeing and feeling how her neck and magnificent limbs nestle in the precious soft furs, and to lift her flowing hair over her collar. When she throws it off, a soft warmth and a faint fragrance of her body still cling to the ends of the sable hair. It is enough to drive one mad."
First Publishing: 1870

this is a love story for those not faint of heart, but rather for those curious in the torment of love and the fusion of pleasure and pain. and for the rare romantics whose idealistic view of love is defined in the submissive gesture of giving one's self away entirely for that of another. this is dark erotica as its best; passion wrapped in suffering.

the first half of the novel is made up entirely of letters, sent from the author himself back and forth to an adoring fan. the letters, sent from New Years Eve 1874 until Christmas 1875, reveal the truth in the fiction; the real Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and his fantastical mistress. shortly after Venus in Furs was published, a young Emilie Mataja looked to her idol for encouragement as a budding author and found herself in a twisted literary fantasy. a fantasy that is strangely similar to the fictional novella it proceeds. and although never actually fulfilling their desires, it is the single difference between the two. when Sacher-Masoch's eerily familiar characterization of himself, Severin von Kusiemski, meets his own Venus in Furs, Wanda von Dunajew, it spawns a year long affair, and takes the aberrant couple away from their little Carpathian health resort to a sparkling Vienna. where, all along an adoring Severin is meant to play the role of Wanda's obeisant slave. until the whips and binds become too much, and Wanda becomes an icy Venus brought to life and gives herself away to another man, breaking a love sick Severin in two. and what a beautiful lesson in the torment of love it was! I leave you with a glimpse into the sinister novella and with a favourite excerpt, when Severin first catches eye of his stony goddess, a Venus in Furs:

"In the garden, in the tiny wilderness, there is a graceful little meadow on which a couple of deer graze peacefully. On this meadow is a stone statue of Venus, the original of which, I believe, is in Florence. This Venus is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in all my life. That, however, does not signify much, for I have seen few beautiful women at all. In love too, I am a dilettante who never got beyond the preparation, the first act. But why talk in superlatives, as if something that is beautiful could be surpassed? It is sufficient to say that this Venus is beautiful. I love her passionately with a morbid intensity; madly as one can only love a woman who never responds to our love with anything but an eternally uniform, eternally calm, stony smile. I literally adore her. I often lie under the leafy covering of a young birch when the sun broods over the forest. Often I visit that cold, cruel mistress of mine by night and lie on my knees before her, my face pressed against the cold pedestal on which her feet rest, and my prayers go up to her. The rising moon, which just now is waning, produces an indescribable effect. It seems to hover among the trees and submerges the meadow in its gleam of silver. The goddess stands as if transfigured, and seems to bathe in the soft moonlight. Once when I was retuning home from my devotions by one of the walks leading to the house, I suddenly saw a woman’s figure, white as stone, under the illumination of the moon and separated from me merely by a screen of trees. It seemed as if the beautiful woman of marble had taken pity on me, come alive, and followed me. I was seized by a nameless fear, my heart threatened to burst and instead-- Well, I am a dilettante. As always, I broke down at the second stanza; rather, on the contrary, I did not break down, but ran away as fast as my trembling legs would carry me."

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