Taken as a list of ingredients, the book is right up my alley: -Landmark document in the history of kink,...moreI would like to love this book, but I do not.
Taken as a list of ingredients, the book is right up my alley: -Landmark document in the history of kink, the book which led Krafft-Ebing to term erotic pleasure derived from pain "masochism" -Divulgement of the author's treasured fantasies, hashed out with nearly fannish enthusiasm -Classic exploration of sadomasochism, submission and control -Indulges in uniform fetishism and service submission, favorites of mine, as well as the titular heavy furs -Set in the wind-bitten peaks and valleys of Eastern Europe and the avenues of Florence -Includes a really gorgeous male character, the descriptions of whom feel very homoerotic indeed -Advances feminist principles at a relatively early date -Puts in a good word for us Jews, at a time when we were not widely loved or admired (nor particularly well-treated)
All that said, the ingredients turn out to be of poor quality, and not especially well-synthesized. It could have worked out quite well as a meticulously-crafted narrative poem, amping up the dreamy and unreal aspects of the story for aesthetic effect, or as an involving psychological novel, forgoing dreaminess for realism and impact; as it stands, Sacher-Masoch's novella has neither the artful verbiage to be really poetic, nor the character and relationship development to be psychologically real and potent. I didn't find the progression of Severin and Wanda's relationship at all convincing. Her sudden transformation from vanilla lady to Sinister Ice Domme of Evil was pretty ridiculous, and the ending even more so. That the characters are more ideals than fleshed-out people would have been fine if the construction of the book were particularly strong in other ways, but it unfortunately isn't.
To top all of that off, the gender concepts presented are painfully simplistic. Sacher-Masoch seems to have his heart in the right place, but there is much room for sophistication here that is instead filled with romantic, broad-brush pronouncements.
A trailblazing erotic classic to be sure, but it leaves much to be desired as a piece of fiction in my kinky eyes. For a really impactful classic of kinky lit, The Story of O is much superior.
It could easily turn out that I was simply reading the wrong translation...(less)