Written by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

1870 ****1/2 154 pages

I always love reading controversial books from bygone eras. Here is the book (and author's name) that gave birth to the term "masochism." Severin is a young man who is so obsessed with a woman that he vows to be her slave, wanting her to whip him and command him. It's quite unsettling at times, but it's very, very fascinating to think that this was written in 1870. It's hard to imagine the stir it created in the status quo. Even now, nearly 150 years later, we still see the link between pain and sexual pleasure to be taboo. I can't imagine living in such a sexually primitive time and reading this book. Just as important as its controversial nature is the quality with which the prose is written. It's short, but engrossing. You enjoy every page, and you don't really want it to end, as opposed to more modern bondage books, like Fifty Shades of Grey, which make you roll your eyes in disgust with each moan and orgasm of the characters. Venus in Furs is a book that should be more popular than it is, and it should be studied by all those interested in sexual exploration. This book also inspired a song by The Velvet Underground, also titled "Venus in Furs," which is, in my opinion, one of the greatest songs of all time.