The masochism of the writer Sacher-Masoch and the "Confession" of his wife
By Pictolic https://pictolic.com/article/the-masochism-of-the-writer-sacher-masoch-and-the-confession-of-his-wife.htmlVenus in Furs is the famous novel by Leopold Sacher-Masoch, which to this day excites the imagination of the public. The plot of the novel was repeatedly addressed by theater and film directors, and its latest sensational film adaptation was realized by Roman Polanski himself. Reality or creative fiction - how to relate to the landmark work of Sacher-Masoch, in which he describes a special type of love or love addiction - masochism? One of the answers to this question is offered by the former wife of the writer, Wanda von Dunaeva, who in 1906 published a shocking book, Confession of My Life.
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1. "Venus in Furs" was first published in 1870, and 16 years after the publication of this book, the famous German psychiatrist Richard Kraft-Ebing wrote a scientific work called Sexual Psychopathy, in which a separate chapter was devoted to each sexual perversion. In this work, Kraft-Ebing describes masochism - a kind of perversion of sexual life, in which a person experiences sexual arousal when another person treats him like a slave, humiliating and bullying him in every possible way. The reason for calling this anomaly masochism was the fact that the writer Sacher-Masoch in his novels often depicted this perversion, which had not yet been scientifically investigated.
2. Sacher-Masoch was outraged by such a "clinical" reading, in which his work was reduced to nothing more than psychopathological symptoms.
3. And in 1906 (already after the death of Leopold Sacher-Masoch) Wanda von Dunaeva publishes Confession of My Life. The book blew up the public: someone admired the elegance of the style and frankness of the former wife of the writer, someone accused her of slander and desecration of his memory. According to the Confessions, Leopold forced Wanda to live according to the book Venus in Furs, demanded that all his perverted fantasies and desires be brought to life, and if his wife refused, he frightened her with an inevitable creative crisis and lack of money, which did not suit Wanda, who was greedy for money. . So how did they live?
4. There was nothing banal in this story from the very first day: Wanda's friend once brought her a book by Leopold Sacher-Masoch, which the girl read avidly. Shortly thereafter, rumors spread around the city that the famous writer Sacher-Masoch had broken off his engagement to his fiancee. This news excited the public of Graz, but did not at all surprise Wanda's friend, who commented on the incident in the following way: “There is nothing surprising in the fact that he abandoned this poor thing, Sacher-Masoch needs a woman who can completely subjugate him, and the worse she will be treat him, the stronger will be their union.
5. A friend offered Wanda a bet: she would write a letter to Sacher-Masoch, in which she would appear before him as that same demonic woman, the mistress, whom he described in his novels. Wanda was sure that Leopold would not answer and that she would win the argument, but it turned out differently. The answer to the provocative letter came the next day. Sacher-Masoch assured that he was glad to receive the letter and the stranger was not mistaken in assuming that a weak woman was not his ideal. The correspondence continued in the same vein, and the tougher the letters of the stranger were, the more complaisant and happier the famous writer became, until one fine day he began to pray that she would come and put him in chains, and then do with him whatever she wanted.
6. At the insistence of a friend, Wanda came to a meeting with Sacher-Masoch, who introduced herself as a married lady, which further spurred the writer's interest. From that moment on, the couple began to see each other more and more often, and in the end they began to live together, and Wanda's non-existent husband was safely forgotten. Sacher-Masoch's desire was to give his wife unlimited power over himself: he demanded that she insult him, beat him, trample him underfoot. According to Wanda's Confessions, her husband forced her to sign a contract that gave her complete freedom of action.
7. The situation reached the point of absurdity: Sacher-Masoch asked Wanda to dress defiantly, wrap herself in furs and travel alone - in his opinion, ladies who travel unaccompanied "can strike up interesting relationships." Leopold wanted his wife to meet a "Greek" on one of these trips - a young, cruel and handsome man, with whom she would cheat on him. If we recall the novel "Venus in Furs", then the "Greek" is a character who becomes the lover of "Venus", for the sake of him she leaves her devoted slave, thereby ending their sadomaso-story.
8. By the way, the writer's wife was actually called Aurora von Rümelin, Wanda von Dunaeva is the pseudonym that the girl adopted immediately after her wedding with Sacher-Masoch. This name originally belonged to the main character of the novel "Venus in Furs", whose role, at the insistence of her husband or for her own pleasure, was played by Aurora von Rümelin for several years.
9. In her "Confessions" Wanda explains that she indulged her husband's oddities because he promised that if she agreed to make all his fantasies come true, the character of the "demonic woman" would forever disappear from his literary works. The fact is that German literary criticism of those years rather negatively assessed the “masochistic trend” emerging in the work of Sacher-Masoch, readers demanded changes, hoped to see romantic, inexperienced young ladies in the writer’s novels.
10. In the end, Wanda and Leopold broke up: she went to another, more prosperous man, he also did not remain alone. However, they were forever bound by this controversial book, Confession of My Life. It seems that the task of the Confession is to convince the reader that Wanda is an unfortunate victim and Sacher-Masoch an evil genius. But between the lines it is read that Wanda was his accomplice, who consciously and voluntarily agreed to play out the scenario of her life according to the plot of Venus in Furs. She probably enjoyed it.