Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895) was a German writer of some note. He major works include ``Venus & Adonis'' and his magnus opus ``Venus in furs,'' both seem very mild by todays standards, and unlike Marquis De Sade the sexual nature of the material at hand was implicit not explicit.

Sacher-Masoch put the masoch in masochism in much the same way that Marquis De Sade put the sad in sadism. BDSM (Bondage Discipline SadoMasochism) as a lifestyle choice is something that didn't occur until well after both were dead.

The oldest son of the director of police in Lemberg in Galicia and Charlotte von Masoch, Born in 1836 he had a Russian peasant wet-nurse with whom he formed a very strong bond. There is an interesting story from his time in Lemberg:

It has been said by an anonymous author that the women of Galicia either rule their husbands entirely and make them their slaves or themselves sink to be the wretchedest of slaves. At the age of 10, according to Schlichtegroll's narrative, the child Leopold witnessed a scene in which a woman of the former kind, a certain Countess Xenobia X., a relative of his own on the paternal side, played the chief part, and this scene left an undying impress on his imagination. The Countess was a beautiful but wanton creature, the child adored her, impressed alike by her beauty and the costly furs she wore. She accepted his devotion and little services and with sometimes allow him to assist her in dressing; on one occasion, as he was kneeling before her to put on her ermine slippers, he kissed her feet; she smiled and gave him a kick which filled him with pleasure. Not long afterward occurred the episode which so profoundly affected his imagination. He was playing with his sisters at hide-and-seek and had carefully hidden himself behind the dresses on a clothes-rail in the Countess's bedroom. At this moment the Countess suddenly entered the house and ascended the stairs, followed by a lover, and the child, who dared not betray his presence, saw the Countess sink down on a sofa and begin to caress her lover. But a few moments later the husband, accompanied by two friends, dashed into the room. Before, however, he could decide which of the lovers to turn against the Countess had risen and struck him so powerful a blow in the face with her fist that he fell back streaming with blood. She then seized a whip, drove all three men out of the room, and in the confusion the lover slipped away. At this moment the clothes-rail fell and the child, the involuntary witness of the scene, was revealed to the Countess, who now fell on him in anger, threw him to the ground, pressed her knee on his shoulder, and struck him unmercifully. The pain was great, and yet he was conscious of a strange pleasure. While this castigation was proceeding the Count returned, no longer in a rage, but meek and humble as a slave, and kneeled down before her to beg forgiveness. As the boy escaped he saw her kick her husband. The child could not resist the temptation to return to the spot; the door was closed and he could see nothing, but he heard the sound of the whip and the groans of the Count beneath his wife's blows.

When he was 12 his family moved to Prague where he learnt German, the language he would write his novels in. A year later, in the revolution of 1848 he helped defend the barricades. He was an amateur thespian, preforming in plays by Goethe and Gogol at the family home. At 16 his favourite sister died. From an early age he was fond of paintings of women in furs, particularly a Rubens from Munich.

After attending the University of Prague and University of Graz he graduated in Law at 19 and took a position in German history at Graz, but he soon abadoned teaching. He fought in the war of 1866 in Italy and was decorated.

By this time he was establishing a Europe-wide reputation for his books and short stories.

His wife, Laura RĂ¼melin, whom he met when she writing to him in disguise under the name of his heroine Wanda von Dunajew, did not share his pleasure in placing her in awkward and compromising circumstances. After a period of domestic wretchedness in which he cast her as the stereotyped heroine from his works, he finally succeeded in rendering her unfaithful, say as he sent her to meet the gentleman ``How I envy him!'' From this point, their separation was a only matter of time. She would later write a book which cast him in a very poor light.

He moved to Lindheim with Hulda Meister, whom he eventually married and had two children by. Unlike his peer Marquis De Sade, Sacher-Masoch appeared to have little difficulty establishing himself in the trust of the village community, establishing theatrical performances and taking an active role in village life. He died on March 9, 1895.


A brief biography of Sacher-Masoch from "Studies in the Psychology of Sex" by Havelock Ellis ("Love and Pain" pp. 114-119)

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