Man in Furs: From Divine Punishment to Punishment Divine

Catherine Sauvat and Anne Simon, trans. from the French by Mercedes Claire Gilliom. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-68396-480-3
French biographer Sauvat partners with cartoonist Simon (Empress Cixtisis) for this whimsically drawn if spare graphic biography of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836–1895), the Austrian nobleman and erotic writer whose name inspired the concept of masochism. Masoch’s infamous novella Venus in Furs told a then-scandalous tale of female sexual domination and cuckoldry—for Masoch, this was more than just fiction, as he soon after entered a contract with his own first wife, Aurore Rümelin, that mirrored his protagonist’s. After their marriage fell apart in a cloud of resentment and adultery, Masoch attempted a new life absent his old predilections, but found them inescapable. Sauvet covers how early sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing coined the term masochism to describe one who derives pleasure from pain, and aptly captures the emotional turmoil that plagued both Leopold’s and Aurore’s lives, aided by Simon’s expressive, curlicue art style, which recalls Kate Beaton. But the tale is told from the publication of Venus forward, missing details of Masoch’s earlier life, such as the inspiration for Venus’s dominatrix, as well as omitting his lifelong devotion to opposing anti-Semitism. The result is a loving and lovely, if unfortunately abridged, consideration of one of history’s influential sex-scene scribes. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 10/05/2021
Release date: 11/30/2021
Genre: Comics
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