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Venus in Furs (Penguin Classics) Paperback – June 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

About the Author

Joachim Neugroschel has won three PEN translation awards and the French-American translation prize. He has also translated Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs, both for Penguin Classics. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140447814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140447811
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #934,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 93 people found the following review helpful By BDH on December 18, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A well thought out erotic tale.
Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch's 'Venus In Furs', is interesting though eccentric, and perverse though compelling. Besieged in wonder and suspense, the love affair between characters: Severin von Kusiemski and Wanda von Dunajew, becomes a roller coaster ride of desire and emotion.
The obsessive fantasy to be enslaved and brutalized by the woman he loves becomes a cruel reality for poor old Severin. As beautiful Wanda slowly becomes thrilled and captivated by the notion of fulfilling her role in his fantasy, a role that previously made her shrug and laugh, she eventually transforms herself into the controlling dominatrix of Severin's dreams--by becoming more ideal at the sadomasochistic lifestyle than he had ever dreamed was possible. As Severin becomes the ever so content and happy slave, this tug-of-war between self-esteem and power begins to twist and turn with the innocent and deadly psychological games played out between the two.
Written more than a hundred years ago, this psychodrama of love, bound by the perverted desires of one and the demon lying dormant within the other, was tastefully and artfully done.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 23, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Venus in Furs is one of the most spritual works of erotica I've ever read. Much has been made of its "perversity", to the extent that the name of its author is also the name of a psycho-sexual disfunction. However, I feel that this is a grossly unfair way to treat a book that deals so beautifully with the descent and return of a man through his psyche.
Sevrin's tale is one of submission, slavery, and redemption. It is through the experience of being a woman's slave that he realizes his own worth. To treat this as an epic of laciviousness is puritanism of the lowest kind.
Venus in Furs also reminds us that the difference between hammer and anvil may not be so clear cut. It is Severin who brings out the whip in his lover. He then reaps the whirlwind, and can only ride it out.
This book is recommended for people who can see though the drivel that has been dripped upon it since its creation.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Peter Gwilliam on November 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Penguin Classics version of "Venus in Furs" is elegant, but doesn't engage the reader in the 19th century weirdeness of the book in the same way its contemporary translators managed to do. My old copy came (originally) from a book club that clearly catered to the tastes of fin du ciecle pornography fans, with end-papers containing ads that (essentially) said "If you liked this, you'll love..." books that, 20 years ago were considered genuine classics - Sade, Diderot, et al. Then, as now, Sacher-Masoch's writing did not belong in such company as literature, but merely as an exploration of sexuality (in the way that Sade's "Justine" may reasonably regarded as literature, whle the "120 Days" is not).

To regard this as a "classic" in literary terms is a mistake. It is a historical oddity and one best read in a period translation rather than one which - however inadvertently - smooths and modernises it.

In essence, the best thing that can be said about the book (unless you're a student of obscure Victorian sexuality) is that it isnpired a wonderful Velvet Underground tune...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Danielis Christophoros on December 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch manages to illustrate a deep sexual fantasy and moralize at the same time. The author artfully shows the reader the pain endured by Severin, the main character, and the twisted pleasure obtained from it. The obsession over furs is just one aspect of his pain-pleasure complex. It seems that von Sacher-Masoch, like Sade,oversimplifies complex feelings through autobiographical characters. However, unlike Sade's de Franval, the main character seems open to the possibility that this "deviant behavior" isn't perfection, but the manifestation of a personal problem dealt with in an unhealthy way. He seems to have enough of an open mind to "learn."

I highly recommend this novella and think any reader interested in Erotica at all will enjoy it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "walt1022" on December 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
This books rings strangely true. If you allow for the fact that it was written so long ago and in a different culture, it still seems like a plausible account of how a Mistress/slave relationship might have evolved at the time. There is even a negotiaion and a contract. This is the same thing you see in many similar real life, female dominant relationships today. ....
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sabrina on February 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Female Domination is a common lifestyle in the year 2005 but back in 1869 when Sacher-Masoch wrote this book, it was considered a perversion. In fact, the word "Masochist" comes from the name Sacher-Masoch when the German neurologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing classified Sacher-Masoch's sexual desire in his "Psychopathia Sexualis" in 1886.

Much more has been learned about the male desire to be in submission to women over the past century and a half and Female Domination is now practiced by couples all over the world. Elise Sutton in her book "Female Domination" draws a parallel to the increase of this male fantasy with the societal liberation of women. Now women are powerful and independent and more and more men are desiring to be the servants of women, both sexually and domestically. I wonder what Krafft-Ebing would think today if he saw the thousands of Internet sites dedicated to Female Domination?

I found "Venus in Furs" to be romantic, erotic and very well-written. It is a literary classic that will speak to men with masochistic and submissive desires for centuries to come. Wanda struggled with being in the dominant role (both the character in the book and the real life Wanda, Leopold's wife) in the latter half of the nineteenth century. But today in the twenty-first century, more women are accustomed to being in charge so the prospects of men with submissive desires are much better.
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