Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Castrating the Female Dominant: An Analysis of Female Agency in Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus im Pelz
pdf

This work examines the agency of the female dominant in Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's Venus im Pelz through the lens of contemporary theories on masochism. I argue that, contrary to popular scholarship, the dominant can assume control of the masochistic scenes through a creation of her own fantasies, fetishes, and authorship of the masochistic contract. To assess the female dominant's role as agent in the original, widely read version of the work published in 1870, I compare it with the lesser known revision published eight years later. I maintain that the dominant's agency is significantly diminished in this later version and that discerning the motivations behind such revisions offers a better understanding masochism in Sacher-Masoch's work.