Category Archives: Austria

12th Discussion: Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs (19 Aug 2010)

A short discussion because we spent most of the time listening to the Book Launch. Isaac said more people would come if we wrote about our comments on the men at DYMK.

Boy, is the waiter cute! So earnest-looking and so anal, everything had to be straight and proper and fits into the color-scheme. He makes a good househusband someday. Whoever marries him is so lucky! And can the two uncles stop molesting him? Give us a chance to molest him too!

And that SPG, his rotund ass is so firm a dent following the curvature of his ass formed on the stool.

Ok, back to the book:

1. We talked mostly about the complex and complicated notions of gender in this novel, how men and women are not equal in that one has to be a master and the other a slave. The book is at the same time sexist and progressive, arguing for equality. “Woman’s character is characterlessness…” implies that woman’s will is subservient to man’s. But at the end of the novel, it says that she can only be his companion “when she has the same rights as he, and is his equal in education and work.”

2. The other theme we talked about is sexuality, how SM to the narrator is just a cover-up story for his homosexual desires. His admiration for the pretty Greek guy is erotically charged and his SM is “cured” when he comes in contact with the Greek’s “whip,” a loaded metaphor.

3. A “cure” also implies infection, disease – and it seems SM is transmitted and influenced all through art, paintings, statues, etc.

4. Woman in fur implies the animalistic instincts in women. Sexist?

5. The 3rd theme, besides gender and sexuality, is religion. Raj saw the novel as a critique of Christianity as Venus can be substituted by Mary. Isaac read the novel as martyrdom and pain in religion producing a great ecstasy. (See the paintings of St. Sebastian and St. Teresa sculpture).

6. We talked about the over-the-top campy writing style. For instance, “I am not writing with ordinary ink, but with red blood that drips from my heart.” We thought the campy writing works very well with the novel. It seems as if the author is making fun of the writing style prominent of that period: “Why talk in superlatives, as if something that is beautiful could be surpassed?”

7. Other non-conclusive things: a. his childhood encounter with his aunt: Freudian? B. the emphasis on the contract C. the “negresses” in the novel – merely to add to the exoticness? D. What is the Plato’s rooster?

8. We all love the book very very much and we are glad we read it.

ps: who has the waiter’s number?

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Filed under Austria, Classics, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Queer, S/M