Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

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Leopold Ritter[1] von Sacher-Masoch (27 January 1836 – 9 March 1895) was an Austrian writer and journalist, who gained renown for his romantic stories of Galician life. The term masochism is derived from his name.

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. The novel Venus in Furs is his only book commonly available in English.

Contents

Biography

Galician storyteller

Von Sacher-Masoch was born in the city then known as Lemberg, the capital of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, at the time a province of the Austrian Empire (now Lviv, Ukraine), into the Roman Catholic family of an Austrian police director of Spanish descent and Charlotte von Masoch, a Ukrainian noblewoman.[2] He began learning German at age 12. He studied law, history and mathematics at Graz University, and after graduating moved back to Lemberg where he became a professor. His early, non-fictional publications dealt mostly with Austrian history. At the same time, Masoch turned to the folklore and culture of his homeland, Galicia. Soon he abandoned lecturing and became a free man of letters. Within a decade his short stories and novels prevailed over his historical non-fiction works, though historical themes continued to imbue his fiction.

Panslavist ideas were prevalent in Masoch's literary work, and he found a particular interest in depicting picturesque types among the various ethnicities that inhabited Galicia. From the 1860s to the 1880s he published a number of volumes of Jewish Short Stories, Polish Short Stories, Galician Short Stories, German Court Stories and Russian Court Stories. His works were published in translation in Ukrainian, Polish, Russian and French. In Ukraine his works were widely read and held in high esteem.

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