Venus in Furs, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (Privately Printed for Sylvan Press, New York 1947, limited “large paper edition” #289/1499)
8.5″ x 10.75″, 140pp, hardbound in black pebbled cloth with gilt titles and decorations on front and spine, original mylar dust jacket, frontispiece with tissue guard, bookplate “from the library of Louis T. Milic”
Venus in Furs (German: Venus im Pelz) is a novella by Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895), an Austrian writer and journalist. It is now his best known work and because of its themes the term masochism is derived from his name, coined by the Austrian psychiatrist, Krafft-Ebing. The novel was to be part of an epic series that Sacher-Masoch envisioned called Legacy of Cain. Venus in Furs was part of Love, the first volume of the series. It was published in 1870. The novel draws themes, like female dominance and sadomasochism, and character inspiration heavily from Sacher-Masoch’s own life. Wanda von Dunajew, the novel’s central female character, was modelled after his mistress Baroness Fanny Pistor. In December 1869 the two signed a contract making him her slave for a period of 6 months. In 1873, after the publication of Venus in Furs, Sacher-Masoch married Aurora von Rümelin who he pressured to continue the lifestyle he wrote about in his book. After 10 years they divorced. Rümelin, using the pseudonym of the books title character, “Wanda von Dunajew”, wrote Meine Lebensbeichte (My Life Confession) published in 1906. It detailed Sacher-Masoch’s private life and her relationship with him.
During his lifetime, Sacher-Masoch was well known as a man of letters, a utopian thinker who espoused socialist and humanist ideals in his fiction and non-fiction. Most of his works remain untranslated into English. Until recently, his novel Venus in Furs was his only book commonly available in English.
Bookplate: Louis Tonko Milic (1922-2003), was a Croatian by birth. He attended school in France and moved to New York with his mother and sister in 1936 at 13. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in English and comparative literature from GSAS in 1950 and 1963, respectively, with time out for WWII, during which he learned Arabic and was a translator in Iran for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Milic taught at Teachers College from 1955–69. From 1969–78, he chaired the English department at Cleveland State University (CSU) and served on its faculty until his retirement in 1991. His studies focused on 18th-century literature. Milic’s work, A Quantitative Approach to the Style of Jonathan Swift, was among the first studies to use computer analysis in the humanities. He authored three books on stylistics, edited a number of other volumes and published more than 50 scholarly articles. Milic founded and presided over the Cleveland Eighteenth-Century Society. At CSU, he co-founded and co-edited The Gamut, a quarterly journal of ideas and information, which was published for 12 years, until 1992. Milic supported the CSU Poetry Center and helped make it an organization of national prominence. American Council Learned Societies and International Business Machines Corporation fellow, 1967; National Endowment of the Humanities fellow, 1980.