Venus in Furs tells the story of a young man who signs his life over to an older woman in a binding contract. This contract forms the basis of their relationship to each other, in which he is entirely bound to obey her, even should she tell him to kill himself. Austrian author Leopold Sacher-Masoch thus gave birth to the concept of "masochism", which describes the sexual, fetishistic infliction of pain and humiliation under the terms of a contract, implied or real. Venus in Furs was his most famous novel and comes under the first part of his Legacy of Cain series, Love.

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