Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Recently I have been reading some of the writings of the Marquis de Sade (that's him on the left) - all in the name of education you understand. Apart from the erotica for which he is famous (actually it's pornography* but the 'e' word makes it sound more classy), he wrote quite a lot of articles about Life, some of which have made it on to my current Open University course. That got me to thinking about sadism - as it would - and it was only a short step from that to begin thinking about masochism. So then of course I had to investigate from whence the word had sprung.

It comes from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch who, amongst many other things, made his mistress Fanny Pistor sign a contract making him her slave for the period of six months, with the stipulation that she wear furs as often as possible, especially when she was in a cruel mood. He actually wrote a short book Venus in Furs based on his love affair with her. Now if that book title sounds familiar to some of you it's probably because of this song, made famous of course by the Velvet Underground, (the band John Cale** used to be in and his is the best ever version of Lenny's song 'Hallelujah' that the whole world now seems to know due to Simon Cowell. I know lots of people prefer Buckley's version but Cale's is the best - fact).

Why is the picture of Marianne Faithfull at the top of this post? She was very lovely then, but that's not the reason. She is Baroness Sacher-Masoch, having inherited the title through the maternal line. I'd vaguely remembered that she had some connection with Hungo-Austrian nobility but of course didn't know that her line stemmed from good old kinky Leopold.

*Now that would make an interesting essay - Discuss the difference between erotica and pornography using examples from words and images of the last 250 years

**Lou Reed was the most famous of the band and Mr Warhol played a big part in their success. I suppose he was the cool version of Simon Cowell.


Tim Atkinson said...

What a veritable treasure trove of trivia! I shall go armed with all this knowledge to the next pub quiz. They better have questions on Marianne Faithfull!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating stuff, FF. I really enjoyed this.

Cynthia Pittmann said...

Can't say I envy you in this writing assignment but your own essay question's a hit with me. Maybe you could suggest it? For those in the know, is Lenny, Leonard Choen? I enjoy his "Hallelujah" also and I have heard a cover that, if I recall correctly, he thought it was better than his own interpretation. Would that be Cale's version? one of the other's you mention? I can tell you're in the writing mode with all of the connections you are making!

Dumdad said...

I enjoy my peek into Education Corner. You're learning us good and proper!

Cynthia Pittmann said...

Speaking as a 'good student,' I checked your profile and realize it's (spelled correctly this time) Leonard Cohen...he's on your list of favorites.

French Fancy... said...

The Dotterel -I've only been to a few pub quizzes in my time but absolutely loved them. I've never been on a winning table though - hope you've had better luck (or knowledge)

Lady Fi - glad it did the business for you :). I love all these degree of separation things.

Cynthia - I think it is the John Cale version that Cohen endorses as his personal favourite. It's certainly the version that appears on a CD called 'I'm Your Fan'. This has Cohen songs sung by a variety of people, all with his blessing, and the Cale is included on that -so, presumably, it is his favourite.

When it comes to Jeff Buckley's version however, I'm one of those that think if he hadn't been the son of a famous singer then nobody would have heard of him.

Dumdad - I think you probably have your head crammed with bits and pieces like this already. Is there any room left?

Lulu LaBonne said...

I used to love that song and now I can't stand it, it's like when BA used the Delibes aria for their adverts and turned a beautiful thing into cheezy corn

Blu said...

How did I miss your canal walk post?..So you have been walking on the wild side baby..What interesting connections, far to dangerous to be wearing kinky boots at the moment because you would be on your arse in no time.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

FF, I am a Mistress of Trivia but did not know that Marianne Faithfull factoid at all!

This is such a clever piece of writing, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post too, thank you FF. If you ever write the essay you have suggested I would be interested to read it.

And while I am aware of John Cale, I have to admit that I have never heard of Jeff Buckley (or his version of Hallelujah) and I have no idea who his famous parent is either.

Frankofile said...

Oh brave new world, that hath such people in it!

will said...

L Cohen is da Man!

Many have sung his songs, none equal his genius.

Simon who?

Nice post.

Deb said...

Wow - you truly made my brain cells wake up and focus this morning! You writing style flows smoothly - and one easily gets caught up in the rhythm! Thanks for teaching me a few facts I did not know! I am off now to learn more from other teachers in the blogosphere!

French Fancy... said...

Lulu - I still love the John Cale version and really wish Cowell had left it alone.

Blu -hehe,a Lou Reed fan, eh? I saw him in concert about 20 years ago - he was pretty good actually - as one would expect.

Woman of No Importance - hello and thank you very much. From a Mistress of Trivia it is praise indeed. Doesn't that have a great ring to it - Mistress of Trivia.

Completely Aienne - hello to you too.My thanks as well. There used to be a singer called Tim Buckley (Starsailor took their name from his album) - he had a falsetto voice and it was quite pleasant. He died quite young - as did his son, Jeff, also a singer.

Frankie - I'm not sure who that is aimed at. Please clarify :) That sounds a mite harsh,it's not meant like that at alol

Bill - we share Leonard Cohen love. Famous Blue Raincoat - one of my top ten songs.

Have you ever caught a snippet of American Idol on tv? The smug Brit that is sometimes funny, usually accurate and is very powerful in the music biz is Simon Cowell.

Deb - you make me blush. Thank you and hello.

Titian red said...

Happy New Year, and hope you are on your countdown for Venice !
Further to the essay musings many years ago, when an Art History undergraduate, I was lucky enough to spend a term in Rome based at the British School, where, one evening, there was a drinks party to try and convince bureaucracy that it was a worthwhile enterprise. Us girlies were all wheeled out in our party frocks (most people there were male, the age I am now and researching esoteric things like Papal Regalia of the 13C) and told to shmooze. One of the guests was Prince Phillip, who, on hearing what we were studying, spent the entire evening regaling us with the importance of Hellenic sculpture and the accuracy of the proportions !! In next to no time the smile was a rictus and our eyebrows had disappeared into hairlines. Slightly spooky !

This Ro(a)mantic Life said...

Hee hee! Such fun! I love your essay prompt. If I were teaching an elective, I'd have to find a way to use it as a topic for my students. Unfortunately, there's no way to tie it into the literature on the syllabus this semester without taking a substantial detour ...

Lane Mathias said...

What a lot I am learning here:-)

I knew Marianne F was Baroness something but didn't know about her 'illustrious' heritage. I'd be rubbish in a pub quiz:-)

and yes - John Cale. Fact.

nikkicrumpet said...


Kathy said...

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, I am going to ask Vanni about him, he knows everything about everything, we shall see. I also await your essay. and don't go anywhere near the cupboard with the carrier bags, we need you right here lol. Kathy.

Kathy said...

Hello there Nikki, we seem to be at FF's at the same time, have you undressed those dogs yet lol.

Frankofile said...

I was quoting Miranda of course from Shakespeare's The Tempest: she gazed in awe at Ferdinand, the first young man she'd ever seen... I feel awed by your cast of characters here! I know so little about them. I've led a very sheltered life.

lady jicky said...

Makes me look at marianne faithfull in a different light.LOL
Mind you, she has always been a touch "off".
I do think she tried to committ suicide while in Australia with jagger and the rolling stones!
Now, I have never liked Mick and I could see him in some S&M action.

Jennysmith said...

God FF, late again.

I took an interest in De Sade's work a few years ago and got some old books from Camden market. However in Justine when they removed her toe I dropped the book like a hot potato. Felt sick. But the other book , can't remember it, was quite good.

Someone told me not to take him that seriously. don't know why.

yes, i love Velvet Underground and Venus in Furs. John Cale is wonderful and Lou Reed. Saw VU at a reunion concert at Wembley in 1993. Did feel odd, i have to say.

the only thing i really buckled at was Andy Warhol gettin compared with Simon Cowell. Still love you tho' xxx

French Fancy... said...

Titian Red - hello, yes, Venice is this year now.I can't book the sleeper train for about six weeks unfortunately. Once the travel is sorted I'll relax a bit.

You've done lots of things that I wish I had - although being bored rigid by Prince Pisn’t one of them. 

oops - I’ve gone all spacey.

French Fancy... said...

is this normal - yes. right, let's carry on.

ContemTroub - you mean you can't see a way to get hard-core on the syllabus? What a shame. I bet it's a course lots of men would sign up for - hark at me being so sexist.
One of my (few, less than 4) very good friends is a writer and one of her books is on female fetishism actually.Her book is a set text for something or other - she probably knows all about Venus in Furs - I must ask her.

Lane - We share love of the Cale. I've got a second-hand vinyl VU first album, but the banana skin had already been peeled off - no surprises there then. I suppose Marianne is the ultimate rock chick - she had it all, what a shame she got so into hard drugs for so long anything with needles is a no-no to me. I have a fear of needles.

nikki - There's so many fascinating connections that I keep coming across since being a student.I'm so lucky that I've got all this time to just sit and 'be'.

Mama - hellooooo - My real current essay (that's not even been begun) is not very sexy or exciting though - it's actually about the concept of the 'sublime'.

Nikki's dogs are very patient, aren't they? I can't see my two ever letting me dress them up AND sit still long enough to have their photo taken.

Oh Frankie, I feel shamed. Actually Mr FF was reading the comments and he said ' I know exactly what Frankofile meant' and then went on to say what you've just put - not the Tempest bit, but the explanation.

I think I might do the Level 3 OU course next year that deals with all of Shakespeare's plays - yes, even Titus Andronicus (unfortunately). I've seen the Tempest but I could never quote from it - I'm jealous now :). Sorry that I might have sounded curt.

Ladyj - she was very pretty and very popular - I think she was meant to have slept with three of the Stones before she settled on Mick.

Jenny - yes, I think I crossed a line with that Cowell/Warhol comparison. Sorry. I saw Nico in concert some years ago and (to be honest) I don't think she was very good - or maybe it was just an off night.

De Sade's life reads like something out of fiction, only then people would say it was too far-fetched to be believable.

(feeling very bad about Warhol/Cowell now- although I hated all those soup cans)

Brother Tobias said...

What a fascinating post! I had no idea about the origins of 'masochism', nor of Marianne Faithfull's connection. In some hazy, slightly chemically confused moment of my past I was persuaded to deliver something for someone in Hay on Wye, in a Morris van which I think was borrowed from Hay Castle. I met April Ashley whilst collecting it, but sadly not Marianne, who was reportedly living there at the time.

justme said...

What a mine of fascination information tou are! I really enjoyed reading this post.

French Fancy... said...

Brotob - the words 'persuaded to deliver' make me really curious. I suppose you didn't know what it was. Damn, I must curb my curiousity - I always seem to wonder about everything. Yes, I do know it killed the cat.

I've never been to Hay on Wye but I know I would love it. shame Marianne didn't answer the door..and give you a come-hither look.

justme - it's the internet and the books that are the source of the info really, I'm just a mere channel :)

Frankofile said...

*I'm* sorry French Fancy - you werent curt, and I was obscure. I saw Titus Andronicus on stage at Stratford - even the RSC couldn't make any sense of it! But a production of Tempest had a marvellous effect - after the initial storm scene, the whole blue backdrop cloth was pulled down through a tiny ring (the cloth must have been silk?)

Tim Atkinson said...

Didn't Rousseau say that just one look at Justine and a good girl would be lost forever, Jenny? Good job you dropped the book when you did! (Sorry, FF - but reading Jenny Smith's comment just brought this to mind and, you never know, it might come in useful!)

French Fancy... said...

Frankie -Oh I miss the theatre so much - probably more than anything else.

The Dotterel - I've not read Justine and I don't think I will. I'm not a great fan of Rousseau - he wasn't very nice to Hume, of whom I am a great fan.

Troy said...

Most educational! There is an interesting comparison of erotica and pornography on wikapedia which I've just read. And there was I thinking the former was in black and white and the latter was in colour.
You should get quite a few hits on your blog having put erotica and pornography together on this posting.

Elizabeth said...

Didn't we all want to BE Marianne Faithful in 1967?
And the Velvet Underground were uber-cool.
Love Buckley's Halleluiejah (How on earth do you spell that? )Will have to look up the Cale one.
Saw Lou Reed at the gym somewhat recently.
Makes one a little triste.

Kathy said...

Hello again, I just tagged you, but only if you want to :) Kathy

French Fancy... said...

Hiya Troy - yes, some of the things I find that people have searched for and end up on my blog instead is very funny. I look on the tracker sometimes and chuckle - one of the gems was 'Carole McGiffin shaved'. This was when I listened to her LBC show in the early days before she became somewhat of a parody. The shaved bit related to my bichon Poppy being shaved for some skin tests - they must have been so disappointed.

Elizabeth - MF was lovely although I was a bit too young to want to be her; I just wanted to be Jo from Little Women.
But how cool to casually drop into a conversation ' oh I saw Lou Reed at the gym' - although to me it is almost as shocking as seeing Keith Richards in a Marathon.

Kathy - coming over very soon.

Henry the Dog said...

Well FF - this post was a bit adult for a little dog, I understood not a word of it, but mum said it was really interesting and she loves posts like that - where she learns something new. She's never read Sade and now thinks she might have a 'look'. Mum's not an intellectual - as you've probably gathered. But she'd like to be one day when she grows up. Mum's a big Lou Reed fan, not keen on Cohen but likes the Cale version too but is now sick of hearing it - period! Hope you're all keeping well in the FFancy household. It seems like ages since I visited your blog xxxxx

Brother Tobias said...

I think the package was probably just books - I was staying with a bookseller at the time (in a cottage in the woods which had no loo). I think the persuasion involved having to drive a strange van in a strange town, probably without tax or insurance.

I did fancy Marianne though.

bindu said...

That was very interesting. I did learn something new - I guess it makes sense that the word masochism should have also come from a person, just as sadism did. Your pictures in your previous posts are lovely.

Ian Lidster said...

You're a Velvet Underground fan and that speaks so well of you and so does homage to Ms. Faithful. Very interesting post.

French Fancy... said...

Henry, little Henry - I'm not an intellectual either, just a person with endless curiousity. I used to have some quite intellectual friends though and I would stay very quiet in their company. I'd hear them philosophizing about things and feel very inadequate.Even now, years later, I might have read a lot of academic type of books but I'd never call myself the I word.

BroTob - I bet you could tell a tale or two from your past that would be fascinating. I'd like to know more about the cottage in the woods.

bindu - hello there. Thanks for that and for the comment about the photos in the previous post. I'm no 'Blu' however :)

Thanks Ian. I do like the VU, or used to years ago but not enough to put them in my profile. I've got some Lou Reed on vinyl and Cale on CD though.

virginia said...

my saturday morning lesson...who knew?
i want a title, and stockings like hers!

i find the most incredible music here:

French Fancy... said...

Hello Virginia (isn't there a song that starts something like that?). Yes, even with my egalitarian ways I'd secretly like a title as well :) As for those lacy stockings - I've already got some.

Julian Meteor said...

Hi FF!!!!!!!!
I've JUST stumbled across your blog!!!
It is FAB and you are HOT (I imagine lol)!!!

French Fancy... said...

Julian - you do like your caps. Are you parodying a certain style here? I indeed do get hot from time to time.

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日月神教-向左使 said...


Rob-bear said...

Ah, there she is; haven't heard about her for years. Caught in a drug bust wearing only a fur rug. (I hope it wasn't a Bear-skin!)

Interesting stories, some people lives. They start out a one place, end up totally elsewhere, and have some interesting side-roads, too.

I just how you don't become sadistic, by time your research is all done, FF.