Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana

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Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana

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Category: Lifestyle
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: It's not often that we call a book outdated and irrelevant, but still suggest you read it. The original Kama Sutra simply has a reputation that it can't live up to, particularly in modern society. As a historical document, it's absolutely fascinating. Check it out if you only know it by reputation.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-1846141096

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Kama Sutra, then... What could I possibly say to introduce it that you don't already know or think you know?

For all that Kama Sutra is, it's no longer a guide to the art of pleasure. It's a fascinating historical document, and undoubtedly influential, but it's very much of its time and of its society. Try to follow all its suggestions and at best you'd never get laid again; at worst, you'll be up on a rape charge within a week. (After sending the nurse's daughter away, he takes the girl's maidenhead while she is alone, asleep and out of her senses...)

Chapter two (the sex one) is all that people really know of the book, and even then, other works going under the Kama Sutra name go into more detail and create our collective consciousness of what Kama Sutra is. Hell, you'll find more useful sex information in poorly-written Thomas the Tank Engine slash fiction on the internet. (No? Just me then). It's testament to our greatly enlightened world that the original Kama Sutra actually no longer serves a practical purpose as an instruction manual. That's not to suggest that sex is a new invention, and of course there are many classic erotic novels that are as umm... moving now as they ever were. Kama Sutra has a reputation for eroticism that exceeds all other works, and it simply wouldn't be able to live up to that under any circumstances.

But it's still an important read. It speaks greatly to what Indian society was like because of what it says. It speaks greatly to what western society was like because of what it became once translated by Sir Richard Burton. It isn't simply a sex book, it's a book about wooing, about setting up a household, about relationships, and then a few extra bits about adultery, harems and courtesans. Because it barely applies to modern life, it's all the more engaging and intriguing. Because we (largely) reject the idea of, say, spells to control people's emotions, we have a powerful perspective that people in earlier centuries wouldn't have had. And as a side-benefit, there's also plenty of unintentional humour to be found in its pages: The same powder, when mixed with monkey shit and sprinkled over a virgin girl, ensures that she is not given to another man. You don't say.

It's been many years since I read the most famous translation by Sir Richard Burton, but from memory, this new translation by AND Haksar compares strongly. This version reads well, with a forceful voice that is as much part of the whole as what's being said. There's also a particularly informative introduction, giving Kama Sutra its place in society and history, as well as touching on past translations. You might not tell from my review, but I really enjoyed the introduction and learned a lot from it.

Today, Kama Sutra is irrelevant and outdated, but I mean those in as nice a way as possible. When read with modern eyes, Kama Sutra might not offer all it once did, but because of its own place in history, it actually offers more. If you've never read it, it's well worth a look.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

You could always look at all this stuff from the perspective of the armchair/popular scientist. In which case, we can recommend Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivation from Adventure to Revenge (and Everything in Between) by Cindy M Meston and David Buss. But - if it's just sleep you're after - try The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple's Guide to the Thirty-nine Positions by Evany Thomas.

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Buy Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana at Amazon.com.


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