June 22, 2012



Just in case you need a reason to love the Velvet Underground, here’s one more. This week, for our musicaliterary inspired video, we’ve got the song “Venus in Furs”, the title of which comes from the novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who, by the way, is also credited as namesaking sado-masochism. It’s a generic resource, but Wikipedia explains it best:

… Facts have been advanced which prove that Sacher-Masoch was not only the poet of Masochism, but that he himself was afflicted with the anomaly. Although these proofs were communicated to me without restriction, I refrain from giving them to the public. I refute the accusation that ‘I have coupled the name of a revered author with a perversion of the sexual instinct,’ which has been made against me by some admirers of the author and by some critics of my book. As a man Sacher-Masoch cannot lose anything in the estimation of his cultured fellow-beings simply because he was afflicted with an anomaly of his sexual feelings. As an author he suffered severe injury so far as the influence and intrinsic merit of his work is concerned, for so long and whenever he eliminated his perversion from his literary efforts he was a gifted writer, and as such would have achieved real greatness had he been actuated by normally sexual feelings. In this respect he is a remarkable example of the powerful influence exercised by the vita sexualis be it in the good or evil sense over the formation and direction of man’s mind.

In terms of Sacher-Masoch’s book, in addition to The Velvet Underground’s treatment, it’s also been adopted for the screen five times, and for the stage as a Broadway play. As a work of fiction, it’s described as such:

Venus in Furs describes the obsessions of Severin von Kusiemski, a European nobleman who desires to be enslaved to a woman. Severin finds his ideal of voluptuous cruelty in the merciless Wanda von Dunajew. This is a passionate and powerful portrayal of one man’s struggle to enlighten and instruct himself and others in the realm of desire. Published in 1870, the novel gained notoriety and a degree of immortality for its author when the word “masochism”—derived from his name—entered the vocabulary of psychiatry. This remains a classic literary statement on sexual submission and control.

At any rate, on we move to the music. Here’s the ever-wonderful Lou Reed and company doing their thing …



Kevin Murphy is the digital media marketing manager of Melville House.