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Edith Cadivec

Related: sm fiction - Grove Press

Eros: The Meaning of My Life (1969) - Edith Cadivec
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"Thus, from my childhood, the rod entrenched itself deeply in my psychic life as the central point of my sweetest dreams, as the climax of all that I anticipated in the way of bliss, and for me it has remained the peerless and truest form of eroticism . . ." The author of this book was a Viennese schoolteacher in the 1920s who believed in corporal punishment.


"Thus, from my childhood, the rod entrenched itself deeply in my psychic life as the central point of my sweetest dreams, as the climax of all that I anticipated in the way of bliss, and for me it has remained the peerless and truest form of eroticism..." The author of this book, a Viennese schoolteacher during the 1920's, was a well-known advocate of corporal punishment and spanking. Her position as schoolmistress provided her with a continuing source of "culprits" to satisfy her erotic needs.

Eros: The Meaning of My Life


Reviewed by Naomi Darvell

Late one night on a weekend visit to my sister's college, I bought my first SM books. We'd stopped at some seedy cigarette-and-liquor store. While the others got their smokes, I was drawn to a bin crammed with used Grove Press paperbacks. The titles weren't familiar, but somehow I knew this had to be the real good stuff.

I scooped up as many as I could carry, braving the giggles of my companions. "What is that, some kind of weird porn?"

This stack of grimy out-of-print treasures was my entire sex library for years. The book I came back to most often was Edith Cadivec's autobiographical Eros: The Meaning of My Life (Eros, des Sinn meines Lebens, translated by Hugh Gaspari, rep. Blue Moon Books 1995.)

I was a little embarrassed to find Eros made me so hot. Cadivec is a kind of Marquis de Sade figure, only done in pastels. She did jail time in the 1920s for whipping her pupils when she worked as a schoolmistress. Of course, a lot of teachers beat their students in those days, and some no doubt got off on it too, but Cadivec was a little too public. She let voyeurs watch the beatings, as well as writing about her pleasures when whipping them.

Cadivec alarmed me, but her sense of damn-it-all! excitement carried me irresistibly from page to page. Among other things, her writing perfectly captures that hothouse intensity of adolescents discovering their kinkiness. At the time, I was caught up in the same discoveries.

Much of Eros consists of what Cadivec says are letters from her lover, Senta, who vividly writes about what it felt like to discover that spanking and whipping excited her. She describes a scene when she has been beaten herself and is imagining another girl being beaten.

"Once I was alone I fell prey to an extraordinary sensual excitement. A tickling stimulus in my private parts threw me into a turmoil. I pulled down my bloomers, threw myself on the bed, lifted my clothes over my head, and spread my legs. I daydreamed wonderfully about Dora's stark-naked bottom being flogged as never before.... Fancy conjured up the most voluptuous images of a birching.... My fingers unconsciously played with my clitoris...until my consciousness was buried under an avalanche of voluptuousness."
Both Senta and Edith write in the purple and seemingly schlocky prose of the European school of that time. While this could be an effect of the translation, that can't be all of it. Perversely, I find that the schlockiness adds to the furtive fascination Cadivec's topic holds for me. Senta writes:
"I am wholly close to you, I embrace you and kiss your lips, I cuddle close to you.... You whisper your sweet words of love into my ear, my bottom is colored dark red by your rod, now you are caressing it, and now in a maddening ecstasy of love I feel your tender hand blessedly fondling the very center of my voluptuousness, between my burning, moist lips which pine for your tenderness..."
Her style sometimes rises to a hysterical shame and pleasure:
"Like a schoolgirl who, for the first time, must unbutton her bloomers -- indeed, even more, much more!!! -- I am ashamed at the thought -- my beloved, I can hardly say such a thing to you -- for when you wholly take me into your love, when I feel your bittersweet rod, your loving-strict hand on my bottom and on my most intimate love center...oh. Most beloved! -- I can hardly think of this -- when I feel your hot, caressing tongue tenderly playing on my erect clitoris...and now I shall dare to say it nevertheless -- I know I shall be able to do naught but surrender to the pleasure of the streaming sensuality which you release in me..."
After a long romance conducted through letters, Edith and Senta finally get together and there's a voluptuous bathing scene with amourously sadistic touches (described in Edith's words this time):
"Without saying a word, I took her by the wrist and led her under the shower to refresh her...I reached for a bar of soap and a sponge and carefully washed her beautiful womanly body from head to foot. I scrubbed and rubbed, lathered and rinsed and shifted her naked body in all directions, at my pleasure, in order to effect entry into all secret orifices...
Edith admits that she likes to wash people forcibly so that they "defend themselves, screaming against my violation of their bodies."
"Senta, however, did not scream and did not defend herself against the passionate bodily care that I was now rapturously practicing on her.... Shy, embarrassed, she allowed my strict and exaggeratedly conscientious hands to minister to her entire body. She clearly understood the erotic motivation behind my passion for this ritual procedure."
Of course, they also engage in whippings that are mostly consensual, but not always:
"I grab the rod. I drag Senta, resisting, along with me, sit down on the sofa, and force her to lie across my lap.... Using force, I maneouver her into a position in which she turns her magnificent woman-bottom to me, my right foot clutches her legs and I clamp them firmly between my thighs...the deep furrow of her bottom is opened as a result of her excitement, revealing the pink hole, with an engaging shamelessness. I fondle it with my finger, and also tenderly visit the blessed valley of Venus...

"I reach for the rod. My left hand, however, makes it way along her belly until it reaches the soft mons veneris. My fingers bury themselves in the hot flesh of the vulva and firmly remain there..I swing the rod in a frenzy of sensuality, in a riot of ecstasy...Senta's body twists and turns frantically. I hear her cry of pleasure, her moaning and wailing. I feel the throbbing of her vulva in my hand, my eyes feast delightfully on her beautiful, shame-red arse, which expands and contracts under my searing blows..."

There are dozens of such scenes throughout Eros. The campy style and the repetitions are strangely fitting to heighten the obsessive quality of their mutual kinks.

Other times the writing veers from the overheated to the surreal. Cadivec dreams of disembodied bottoms floating around and over her head like a heavenly choir dancing the can-can(?!). She describes a long, phantasmagoric scene involving "arse-butterflies."

The fact that her dearest imaginings involve buttocks with no human beings attached says a lot about how much she emphasizes the fetish over the people involved. Her absorption in the kink is hypnotic and it keeps her from fleshing out the characters much in any way other than physically, but there's no denying she does the physical very well.

Other writers have dealt with SM more gracefully than Cadivec and without the element of exploitation. Some people may find things in Eros questionable, especially its accounts of adults taking pleasure in whipping children. Cadivec's arguments about corporal punishment may sound self-serving and disingenuous coming from an admitted fetishist. Yet her work remains in print as classic femdom writing. Her very lack of perspective enables her to plunge readers directly into a powerful SM experience which, for all its quaintness, seems strangely unfiltered, raw, and passionate. --http://www.cleansheets.com/reviews/book_11.21.01.shtml

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