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In 1870, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch publishes Venus in the furs, an erotic novel revealing the author’s desire to dominated by a woman. After the success of the novel, a lady turns up at his doorstep and offers to take on the role of the dominant woman. He submits himself to her completely and they get married.
Years later, Leopold has remarried and lives a quiet life, far removed from the sexual escapades of his first marriage. This is when he learns that his surname is being used, to his detriment, to describe a new sexual perversion: masochism.