Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895) was a prolific novelist and journalist. He came from, and set many of his works in, eastern Galicia in what is now Ukraine, but he is often classified as a German writer because he wrote mostly in German rather than in his native Slavonic dialect. (To confuse things further, some of his books were originally published in French.)
He is best known as the namesake of masochism, a term coined by Krafft-Ebing during Sacher-Masoch's lifetime. The latter naturally resented this.
Relatively few of his works have been translated into English. Those that have are mostly his Jewish-themed storiesnote or whatever pieces a publisher thinks can be marketed as erotica.
Trivia: He is related to Marianne Faithfull, whose mother had the surname Sacher-Masoch.
Works with their own trope pages:
Other works that have English editions:
- "Bloody Wedding in Kyiv" — Short story. Only available as an ebook.
- Jewish Life: Tales from Nineteenth-Century Europe
- Jewish Tales — Includes the occasionally anthologized stories "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and "The Bookbinder of Hort." Public domain.
- A Light for Others and Other Jewish Tales from Galicia
- Love: The Legacy of Cain — Four lesser-known pieces from the same novella cycle as Venus in Furs.
- The Master Masochist: Tales of Sadistic Mistresses — Collection assembled by an erotica publisher in the late '60s.
- The Mother of God — Only available as an ebook.
- Murder in the Carpathians: Three Erotic Short Stories — The stories are "Murder in the Carpathians," "The Death Sentence of a Woman," and "Under the Whip." Only available as an ebook.
- Seraph: A Tale of Hungary — Public domain.
The works of Sacher-Masoch provide examples of:
- Author Appeal: He did have a favorite type of woman, and she shows up even in works that really have little to do with sex or romance. For example, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," a story about two men grappling with their Jewish identity, opens with a long, only partly relevant sketch of the wild-living, unconventionally attractive, whip-wielding gentile noblewoman they both love.
- Author Usurpation: His popular reputation rests almost exclusively on one work, Venus in Furs.
- Fair for Its Day: He was famously a philo-Semite; his Jewish stories are sympathetic and humanizing, but they also emphasize squalor, social problems, and Jewish otherness in a way that, post-Holocaust, can be uncomfortable to read.
- Historical Fiction: One of his story collections (the one "Bloody Wedding in Kyiv" is taken from) is called Liebesgeschichten aus verschiedenen Jahrhunderten (Love Stories from Various Centuries).
- Matzo Fever: This article marshals the evidence that, in addition to having a general, nonsexual sympathy to Jewish interests, Sacher-Masoch frequently used Jewish women as examples of his erotic ideal.
- Orphaned Series: His most ambitious project, The Legacy of Cain, was supposed to consist of six volumes, each devoted to a weighty theme (Love, Property, State, Work, War, Death) and each containing six novellas showing progressively more ideal approaches to the theme — the whole thing connected by an Author Filibuster Framing Device. Only two volumes were completed, and one (War) wasn't even started. Apparently Sacher-Masoch just lost enthusiasm for the idea.