First Femdom Novel

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Taste the whip of love not given lightly
- Lou Reed, “Venus in Furs,” Velvet Underground

Franco film poster
Poster for a Franco movie exploiting Venus in Furs. All Franco films are awful.

Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch’s name gave us the term masochism. And his best known novel Venus in Furs was the first Femdom fiction as we’d now recognize it.

You see people on F/m forums using the names Wanda and Gregor, sometimes also Severin. They got those names from Venus in Furs.

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Since I see no mentions of Venus in Furs in the Femdom segment of the blogosphere most men who dream of a cruel woman dominating them either haven’t heard of or read the novel. The “Fernanda Savage” savage translation is availble for downloading or reading online thanks to Project Gutenberg. (There’s also a more recent translation availble from Penguin).

From the translator’s introduction:

Sacher-Masoch was the poet of the anomaly now generally known as masochism. By this is meant the desire on the part of the individual affected of desiring himself completely and unconditionally subject to the will of a person of the opposite sex, and being treated by this person as by a master, to be humiliated, abused, and tormented, even to the verge of death. This motive is treated in all its innumerable variations. As a creative artist Sacher-Masoch was, of course, on the quest for the absolute, and sometimes, when impulses in the human being assume an abnormal or exaggerated form, there is just for a moment a flash that gives a glimpse of the thing in itself.

If any defense were needed for the publication of work like Sacher-Masoch’s it is well to remember that artists are the historians of the human soul and one might recall the wise and tolerant Montaigne’s essay On the Duty of Historians where he says, “One may cover over secret actions, but to be silent on what all the world knows, and things which have had effects which are public and of so much consequence is an inexcusable defect.”

Among Sacher-Masoch’s works, Venus in Furs is one of the most typical and outstanding. In spite of melodramatic elements and other literary faults, it is unquestionably a sincere work, written without any idea of titillating morbid fancies. One feels that in the hero many subjective elements have been incorporated, which are a disadvantage to the work from the point of view of literature, but on the other hand raise the book beyond the sphere of art, pure and simple, and make it one of those appalling human documents which belong, part to science and part to psychology. It is the confession of a deeply unhappy man who could not master his personal tragedy of existence, and so sought to unburden his soul in writing down the things he felt and experienced. The reader who will approach the book from this angle and who will honestly put aside moral prejudices and prepossessions will come away from the perusal of this book with a deeper understanding of this poor miserable soul of ours and a light will be cast into dark places that lie latent in all of us.

Venus in Furs online

Thanks to Peter Tupper.


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