Based on Sacher-Masoch’s own erotic adventures in the late 1860s, Venus in Furs is a groundbreaking account of mistress-slave roleplay, fetishism, and mutual seduction. In a health resort in the Carpathian Mountains, bookish Severin falls in love with the rich and beautiful widow Wanda. He opens his heart to her, sharing the secret of his life: he yearns to be the slave of an abusive goddess wrapped in fur, to be beaten and cuckolded. Together they set out to make his fantasy a reality. They travel to Italy in the guise of a tyrannical mistress and her obedient servant. What begins as a game, however, soon turns deadly serious. The boundaries blur between their public and sexual personas. Wanda develops a taste for blood. Venus in Furs is Sacher-Masoch’s revolutionary attempt to imagine a world without male privilege.
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was born in 1836 in Lemberg in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A prolific novelist, playwright, and historian, he is best known for his erotic obsession with being flagellated and humiliated by powerful women. In addition to Venus in Furs (1870), Sacher-Masoch’s many works include Don Juan of Kolomea (1865), Female Sultan (1873), and Galician Stories (1875). He died in Lindheim, Germany in 1895.