Author: Vatsyayana, A.N.D. Haksar (Translator)
Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin Classics (1/31/2012)
Source: The publisher
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: A new translation of the classic, notorious Kama Sutra -- without images, but still sexy.
Reading Challenges: Books in Translation, Dewey Decimal Challenge
Do I like the cover?: I adore the cover. It's gorgeous, naughty, playful, sinuous, sensual, striking, and provocative. I love the Beardsley-esque-ish style and the colors. The flipside has even naughtier poses!
First line: The Kama Sutra was written in India nearly two thousand years ago.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow for sure -- learn what this notorious work really is about!
Why did I get this book?: I'm still 15 inside and am curious about sex!
Review: No need to feel mortified reading this book! Blessedly free of awkward 60s-ish drawn illustrations, Cosmo-esque cartoon figures, or really disquieting photographs of therapist/lovers modeling the poses, this edition of Kama Sutra offers the original, notorious, and famed work in a clean, straight-forward translation.
I'll be honest: until now, I was actually unfamiliar with the Kama Sutra, other than the usual teenaged interest in checking out the naughty pics. So I was thrilled to see Penguin's new translation -- I've been dubious of the infamous Richard Burton version
The Introduction opens with an explanation of present perceptions of the Kama Sutra, including the fact that more than half the titles in the US Library of Congress are non-academic translations. The Kama Sutra has come to represent, simply, sex, and the spiritual, ethical, and literary merits of the work ignored or forgotten.
Vatsyayana -- a celibate cleric! -- wrote his guide as an educational tool to shape the whole person. From straight-forward tips on sex, it also includes information on hygiene, managing a harem, and the fiscal challenges facing courtesans. Obviously, some of the sections rang ludicrous for me, but I was fascinated by the very pragmatic and practical attitude toward sex, sex workers, and sexual partnerships. Haksar, the translator, uses lovely, clear language for the passages, and the work is readable and titillating!
A super fun gift for Valentine's Day or an anniversary, this is a wickedly delicious read that is edgy without being embarrassing. Plus, there's something to be said for reading such a notorious work and knowing what it's actually about!
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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Penguin Classic's new Deluxe edition of Kama Sutra. To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/CA readers, ends 2/24.