Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was born January 27, 1836 in Lemberg (then the name of Lviv) in the family of the Chief of Police of the Kingdom of Galicia and Volodymyr Leopold Zaher. The ancestors of his father were the Spaniards, who settled in Prague in the 16th century, and the Bohemian Germans.
His mother, Charlotte, was the daughter of a professor and then rector of Lviv University Franz von Masoch. Some researchers speak of her Rusyn (Ukrainian) origin.
On the site of the house where the future writer was born, now stands the famous “Grand Hotel” in Lviv.
Leopold, the eldest son in the family, was born on the ninth year of the marriage of his parents and at first was so frail that there was almost no hope for his recovery. His health began to improve after
When Leopold was 12 years old, the family moved to Prague, where the boy learned German, where he later wrote his works.
In the parental home, Leopold was brought up in an atmosphere of Enlightenment liberalism, characteristic of the time of the reign of Franz Joseph. Already in his childhood, tendencies began to appear in him, which later made him famous. Sacher-Masoch attracted situations of cruelty; He liked to look at the pictures depicting executions, and his favorite readings were the lives of martyrs. An important personality of his childhood was a relative from his father’s side, Countess Xenobia, who was an extremely beautiful and at the same time cruel woman. Once, while playing a secret with his sisters, he hid in the Countess’s bedroom and witnessed how the Countess first led a lover there, and a few minutes later her husband entered the bedroom with two friends. The Countess beat and drove out three uninvited guests, the lover ran away, and Leopold imprudently betrayed his presence, after which the Countess also beat him. However, from her blows, the boy felt an incomprehensible pleasure. The man soon returned, and Leopold, hiding behind the door, heard the whip’s strokes and the count’s groans. The insults, whip and fur that the countess loved to wear became permanent motifs in the work of Sacher-Masoch, and from that time on he perceived women as beings who should both be loved and hated.
Sacher-Masoch was a successful student and student. In the universities of Prague and Graz, where he moved in 1854, Leopold studies law, mathematics and history, and at the age of 19 becomes a doctor of law. He became a privat-docent at Graz University. In 1858 he anonymously published the novel “One Galician Story: The Year 1846”. Since that time, Zaher-Masoch has created every year, according to the book, and even more, experimenting with a wide variety of literary genres. He wrote historical studies (eg, “The Rebellion in Ghent during the reign of Charles V”), plays, feuilletons, literary-critical works. He was the founder and editor of several magazines, which, however, did not last long.
According to the literary encyclopedias of Germany and Austria, in 1860 Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was invited to lecture on history at the University of Lviv. There is no unequivocal opinion whether he accepted this invitation among the scientific workers, but this possibility is indicated by the impressions of Galichyna that exist in his work, namely the adult man, and not the boy.
For a while, Sacher-Masoch combined his academic career with literary creativity, because literary and publishing activities did not bring him sufficient profit. After the success of the readers of the novel “Don Giovanni from Kolomyia” (1872) (written in French and published in one of the Paris journals), he decided to devote himself entirely to literature.
At this time, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch married with his ardent fan Aurora Von Rümslin. Arrogant, selfish, greedy for money, clothes and visits to the upper world, Aurora also began writing, taking the pseudonym “Vanda von Dunaev” (the name of the heroine of “Venus in Furs”). Subsequently, they together signed under low-level short stories with the surname Sacher-Masoch (without the name). Exaggerated demands of his wife led the writer to poverty and forced him to do ordinary work. He descended to the level of pornography and began writing unpretentious novels, dressing his heroines in colorful Hutsul katsabayki and kerchiefs and savoring the story with whips and kanchuki, for which he received the description “the father of one perversion.” Having brought Leopold von Sacher-Masoch to this state, Aurora left him (she subsequently wrote the popular memoirs of my readers, The Story of My Life). The writer then married the governess of his children, who was younger than him for 20 years, and this marriage was also not successful.
In 1881, Sacher-Masoch settled in Leipzig and spent the rest of his life in Germany.
Creativity Sacher-Masoch belongs to the era when against the backdrop of flourishing industry, the splendor of the life of the new bourgeoisie and the decline of the village, the intelligentsia lived in a world where the idealization of rural life combined with materialistic and epicurean tendencies, and sensuality and love became the center and purpose of human life. The experiences of Zacher-Masoch’s personal life, which received a pathological sexual pleasure from subordination to physical and emotional violence by women, found their reflection in his works. Almost autobiographical character is the novels of “The Divorced Woman” (1870) and “Venus in Furs” (1870) (the “Divorced Woman” was based on the experience of Anna Von Kottwitz, a novel from Anna, and the “Venus in the Fur” of the writer was inspired by intrigue from Fanny von Pistor).
The theme of mocking a despotic woman over a weak man is also constantly appearing in the historical works of Sacher-Masoch and in the course of time becomes so expressive that in 1886 the Viennese psychologist Richard von Kraft-Ebing calls the sexual pathology characterized by obtaining pleasure from pain and submission, masochism.
The works of Sacher-Masoch were translated into many European languages and published in large editions. He was especially popular in France. His work was highly appreciated by Emil Zola, Gustave Flaubert, Alphonse Dode, Alexander Dumas-father and Alexander Dumas-son. In 1886, from the hands of the President of France, Sacher-Masoch accepted the Order of the Legion of Honor.
The last years of his life, Zaher-Masoch spent in the German village of Lindheim in Hesse, where he died on March 9, 1895. The extraordinary nature of his fate did not end and on this – as claimed, the urn with his ashes destroyed the fire of 1929.