This essay investigates the linguistic play and geopolitical scenarios in the work of Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (author of Venus in Furs and the man who gave his name to “masochism”) and his younger contemporary, the German-Jewish writer Karl Emil Franzos. Both men grew up in the Eastern borderlands of the Habsburg Empire, in the Crownland of Galicia, which was inhabited by Ukrainians, Jews, and Poles. A third figure with a distinctly Habsburg imperial biography, Sigmund Freud, provides both techniques for reading and serves as a subject of analysis in his own right. Drawing on a psychoanalytic toolbox, this essay develops a provincial reading of psychosexual and geopolitical fantasies in these writers' work within the context of Austrian culture after Austria's defeat to Prussia (1866) and subsequent German unification (1871). The analysis devotes special attention to the linguistic origins of Sacher-Masoch's favored fetish object, the fur-lined kazabaika. Sacher-Masoch's particular brand of fetishism, this essay argues, is a form of resistance to the procrustean bed of national identity in favor of an aestheticized and idealized vision of imperial multiplicity. This article aspires to remind twenty-first-century critics that Freudian psychoanalysis was born at the border and emerged from the interstices of multiple languages, religions, and nationalities. In the Habsburg imperial setting where psychoanalytic thinking first took hold, the psychoanalytic subject and the syntax of the fantasy were always emphatically multilingual and cross-cultural.
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Anne Dwyer; The Multilingual Pleasures of Slavic Worlds: Sacher-Masoch, Franzos, Freud. Comparative Literature 1 June 2013; 65 (2): 137–161. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-2143143
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