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Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch - best known for the novel, "Venus in Furs," - that Dr. Richard von Krafft-Ebing singled out in the origin of the word "Masochism."

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was born in 1836 at Lemberg. He was of Spanish, German and more especially Slavonic race.

The novelist's father was director of police in Lemberg and married Charlotte von Masoch, a Ukrainian lady of noble birth.

When he was 12 the family migrated to Prague.

Amateur theatricals were in special favour at his home, and here even the serious plays of Goethe and Gogol were performed, thus helping to train and direct the boy's taste.

It is, perhaps, however, significant that it was a tragic event which, at the age of 16, first brought to his the full realization of life and the consciousness of his own power.

This was the sudden death of his favorite sister.

He became serious and quiet, and always regarded this grief as the turning-point in his life.

At the Universities of Prague and Graz he studied with such zeal that when only 19 he took his doctor's degree in law and shortly afterward became a privatdocent for German history at Graz.

Gradually, however, the charms of literature asserted themselves definitively, and he soon abandoned teaching.

He took part, however, in the war of 1866 in Italy, and the battle of Solferino he was decorated on the field for bravery in action by the Austrian field-marshal.

These incidents, however, had little disturbing influence on Sacher-Masoch's literary career, and he was gradually acquiring a European reputation by his novels and stories.

A far more seriously disturbing influence had already begun to be exerted on his life by a series of love-episodes.

In 1883 Sacher-Masoch and Hulda Meister settled in Lindheim, a village in Germany near the Taunus.

Here, after many legal delays, Sacher-Masoch was able to render his union with Hulda Meister legitimate; here two children were in due course born.

Sacher-Masoch became a kind of Tolstoy in the rural life around him, while the theatrical performances which he inaugurated, and in which his wife took an active part, spread the fame of the household in many neighboring villages.

Meanwhile his health began to break up; a visit to Nauheim in 1894 was of no benefit, and he died March 9, in Lindheim, 1895.