Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

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Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
Born 27 January 1836
Died 9 March 1895
Nationality Austrian

Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch (27 January 1836 – 9 March 1895) was an Austrian writer and journalist, who became famous for his romantic stories about Galician life. The word masochism comes from his name.

During his lifetime, Sacher-Masoch was known as a thinker who supported socialist and humanist ideas in his writing, both his stories and his letters. Most of his works have not been translated into English. The novel Venus in Furs is the only one of his books that can be commonly found in English.

Life[change | edit source]

Storytelling[change | edit source]

Von Sacher-Masoch was born in what is now Lviv, Ukraine. His father was a Austrian police director with Spanish ancestry, and his mother was Charlotte von Masoch, a Ukrainian noblewoman.[1] He began learning German at age 12. He studied law, history and mathematics at Graz University. After he finished his study, Sacher-Masoch moved back to Lemberg where he became a professor. His early writing was mainly non-fiction works about Austrian history. At the same time, Sacher-Masoch began looking into the stories of his homeland, Galicia. Soon he stopped lecturing to write stories and letters. Within ten years, his short stories and novels became more famous than his historical non-fiction works, though his fiction had history in it.

Sacher-Masoch was especially interested in capturing stories of the different ethnicities that lived in Galicia. From the 1860s to the 1880s, he collected many volumes of Jewish Short Stories, Polish Short Stories, Galician Short Stories, German Court Stories and Russian Court Stories. His works were translated into Ukrainian, Russian and French. They were very popular in Ukraine.

The Legacy of Cain[change | edit source]

In 1869 Sacher-Masoch wrote a large number of short stories under the group title Legacy of Cain. These stories showed his view on life and the world. Six volumes were planned, but only the first two were ever completed. By the middle of the 1880s, Masoch had abandoned the Legacy of Cain. Despite this, the published volumes of the series included his best-known stories, including Venus in Furs (1869) which is the most famous today. The short novel expressed Sacher-Masoch's fantasies and fetishes, which he tried to live out with his mistresses and wives.

Views on semitism and feminism[change | edit source]

Sacher-Masoch edited the monthly literary magazine Auf der Höhe. Internationale Review (At the Pinnacle. International Review), which was published in Leipzig from October, 1881 to September, 1885. This was a magazine aimed at helping Jews in Saxony become part of the community, as well supporting women's rights with articles on women's education and suffrage.

In his later years, he worked against local antisemitism through an association called the Oberhessischer Verein für Volksbildung (OVV), which he founded in 1893 with his second wife, Hulda Meister.[2]


References[change | edit source]

  1. The cultural legacy of Sacher-Masoch Nataliya Kosmolinska and Yury Okhrimenko
  2. Hyams, Barbara (2000). "Causal Connections: The Case of Sacher-Masoch". In Finke, M.C.; Niekirk, C.. One Hundred Years of Masochism. Rodopi. ISBN 90-420-0657-9.