L. von Sacher-Masoch
Venus in furs
Venus has a cold. Speaking about the coldness of Europe and Europeans, she constantly sneezes and wraps her marble shoulders in dark sable fur. “The more rude a woman will treat a man, the more she will be loved and worshiped by them.” Pleasant companion! However, we must wake up – Severin is already waiting for tea.
“A strange dream!” says Severin. Strange Severin! A thirty-year-old pedant living by the clock, thermometer, barometer, Hippocrates, Kant… but sometimes suddenly caught by frenzied bouts of passion. Strange house: skeletons, stuffed animals, gypsum, paintings, in the picture – she: Venus in furs. Instead of explanations, Severin takes out the manuscript, and while we read “The Confession of the Supersensible”, he sits with his back by the fireplace, dreaming…
Before us – a slightly tweaked diary, started in the Carpathian resort for boredom sake. Gogol, headache, cupids… – ah, Severin’s friend! You are an amateur in everything! The resort is almost deserted. Worthy of attention is only a young widow from the top floor and a statue of Venus in the garden. Moonlight night, widow in the garden, it’s her, Venus! No, her name is Wanda von Dunaev. Wanda gives his stone predecessor to wear his fur cloak and offers the amazed Severin to become her slave, buffoon, her toy. Severin is ready for anything! They spend all day together. He vividly tells her about his childhood, about his second cousin in a fur hat that once carved it – oh, what a delight! – rods; he lectures to her about artists who wrote women in furs, about legendary masochists, about the great voluptuous ones. Wanda is visibly excited…
A few days later, Wanda appears before the shocked North-East in an ermine cut-off with a whip in his hands. Hit. Compassion. “Hit me without any pity!” Hail strokes. “Get out of my sight, slave!”
Excruciating days are the arrogant coldness of Wanda, rare caresses, long separations: a voluntary slave must appear to the lady only by phone. Severin is too noble a name for a servant. Now he is Gregory. “We are going to Italy, Gregory.” The lady goes first class; wrapping her feet with a fur blanket, the servant leaves in his, the third.
Florence, a luxurious castle, painted – Samson and Delilah – ceiling, sable cloak, document – agreement (an inquisitive reader will find in the annexes to the novel a similar “Treaty between Ms Fanny von Pistor and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch”). “Mrs. Dunaeva has the right to torture him at his first whim or even kill him if she likes it.” Severin holds together this unusual treaty and writes a note about his voluntary withdrawal from life under Vanda’s dictation. Now his fate is in her lovely plump pens. Delilah in the fur cloak bows over the enamored Samson. For his loyalty, Severin is rewarded with blood spanking and the month of exile. A tired slave is gardening, a beautiful... lady is making visits…
A month later, the servant Gregory finally takes up his duties: he serves the guests at dinner, getting slapped for embarrassment, carries the letters of the lady to men, reads to her aloud, “Manon Lescaut,” by her order, showered her face and chest with kisses and – “You can be everything, what I want – a thing, an animal! .. “- wields a plow over the maize field, urged by Vendian maid-Negro girls. The lady watches this spectacle from afar.
A new victim of the “Lviv Venus” (Vanda – countrywoman Sacher-Masoch) – German artist. He writes it in furs on a naked body, trampling on the foot of a lying slave. He calls his picture “Venus in Furs”, as it may seem strange to someone.
…Walk in the park. Wanda (purple velvet, ermine edge) rules the horses herself, sitting on the goats. On a slender, hot crow, Apollo in a fur jacket. Their views meet…
Gregory gets an impatient order: to learn about the rider everything! The servant reports to Vendee-Venus: Apollo is a Greek, his name is Aleksey Papadopolis, he is brave and cruel, young and free. Wanda is losing sleep.
The slave tries to escape, the slave wants to take his own life, the slave rushes to the river… A vulgar amateur! Besides, his life does not belong to him. Through and through, Severin-Gregory walks around the mistress’s house, he sees them together – the goddess and the god: Apollo flaps his whip and, angry, leaves. Venus trembles: “I love him as I have never loved anyone, I can make you be his slave.”
The slave is furious. A lot of flattery and caresses is wasted by Wanda, so that – “We are leaving tonight” – to calm him and – “You are quite cold, I will puke you a little” – to tie his hands.
And at the same instant the curtain of her bed parted, and the black, curly head of a handsome Greek man appeared.
Apollo ripped off Marcia’s skin. Venus laughed, folding the furs into a suitcase and dressing in a road coat. After the first blows, the slave experienced a shameful pleasure. Then, when the blood flooded his back, the pleasure retreated before shame and anger. Knocking the door of the crew, the clatter of hoofs, the clatter of wheels.
Everything is over.
And then? .. Then – two years of peace work in his father’s estate and Wanda’s letter: “I loved you But you yourself strangled this feeling with your fantastic devotion I found that strong man that I was looking for… He fell in a duel I live in Paris the life of Aspazia… Take as a keepsake of me the gift of Venus in furs. ”
Together with the letter the messenger brought a small box. With a smile – “The treatment was cruel, but I recovered” – Severin extracted from him a picture of a poor German.
L. von Sacher-Masoch