He had planned to write a series of six novels under the collective title the Heritage of Cain: only the first two were ever completed, of which Venus in Furs is the most famous. (Venus im Pelz is the original German language title). This novel tells of a man, Severin, so besotted to a woman that he requests to be treated as her slave, and encourages her to treat him in progressively more degrading ways. Severin describes his feelings during these experiences as supersensuality.
At the end of the book, Severin ceases to desire to submit. At the end of the book he states that men should dominate women until the time when women are equal to men in education and rights: an ending that can be viewed as both misogynist and feminist.
The novel closely parallels events in Sacher-Masoch's own life.
The word Masochism was coined by the 19th century psychiatrist Krafft-Ebing with Sacher-Masoch and his writings in mind.
The lyrics of the Velvet Underground song `Venus in Furs' refer to this book.