Thursday, 7 March 2013

Venus in Furs - Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

"As the slave of Mme. von Dunajew he is to bear the name Gregor, and he is unconditionally to comply with every one of her wishes, and to obey every one of her commands; he is always to be submissive to his mistress, and is to consider her every sign of favor as an extraordinary mercy."

When you sign away all your rights to your lover and agree to change your name and do anything for them including commit suicide, it seems you might be in a little too deep. Such is the situation Severin finds himself in when he gives in to his fantasies of complete domination by the beautiful fur clad Wanda, the personification of 'Venus in Furs'.

For anyone actually enjoyed that infamous bestseller of last year which I can't even deign to name, this is a far superior read and is clearly the inspiration. There's a contract and some whipping and about the only difference, apart from better writing, is that the woman is the one in control of dispensing the punishments.

As with all things taken to their extreme, Severin finds  the adage  "be careful what you wish for" applies. While a Gregor might come in handy for carrying your bags, it is hard to find the appeal in a man so emasculated. An intriguing and genre defining novel, I'd say 4 out of 5 lashes.

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