First published in 1870, Venus in Furs gained for its author both notoriety and a degree of immortality when the word "masochism"--derived from his name--entered the psychiatric lexicon. The novel describes the sexual obsessions of Severin von Kusiemski, a European nobleman with the desire "to be the slave of a woman." Severin finds his ideal of voluptuous cruelty in the merciless Wanda von Dunajew.
Not simply a lurid tale of sexual perversion, nor a Victorian fantasy of antique decadence, Venus in Furs is a passionate and powerful portrayal of one man's struggle to enlighten and instruct himself and his world in the realm of desire. Influential on Freud, Thomas Mann, and Arthur Schnitzler, Venus in Furs remains a classic literary statement on sexual submission and control.
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895) was born in the Galician city of Lemberg. A novelist and poet, he is also known for his Stories of the Russian Court.
Joachim Neugroschel, who has also translated Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha and Thomas Mann's Death in Venice for Penguin Classics, is the recipient of three PEN translation awards and a French-American translation prize.
Larry Wolff is a professor of history at Boston College.