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Posted March 28, 2000
Written by the eponymous Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch, from whose name we get the word masochist, this is the story that gave him that reputation. Nearly an auto-biographical account, it tells the story of Severin (Masoch's alter ego) and his love for Wanda Von Donahue. Severin incites Wanda to be his Venus in Furs, to treat him cruelly, whip him and make a slave of him. This isn't just voyeuristic erotica; the emotions described are heartfelt, and the story can be enjoyed on a number of levels. On one level it's a morality tale about the pitfalls of moulding the one you love into something they are not (hence why I say Pygmallion for masochists), on another level it's an interesting study of the development of a sado-masochistic relationship which proves unfortuantely maladaptive. It's a love story, but an unusual sort. Anyone who has the remotest interest in the darker side of sexuality (and that's probably most of us) should at some point read this book.
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