New Kama Sutra book delights UK readers

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 11:36

London: A new translation of the Kama Sutra and its adaptation to modern lives by Indian scholar A N D Haksar has been hailed in the British press as a "playful and wonderfully blunt translation." Published by Penguin, the book titled `Kama Sutra: The Art of Pleasure` is presented as a lifestyle guide for the modern man and woman.

Citing extracts from the book, Sam Jordison wrote in The Guardian: "For a start it`s a hoot and all the more so thanks to this new playful and wonderfully blunt translation by AND Haksar (No lingams or yonis here. This is a man who calls a cock a cock.) It`s also a fascinating and if this isn`t too much of a contradiction enlightening book." Bel Mooney wrote in the Daily Mail: "(There) is much more to the Kama Sutra than saucy sex, as this handsome, unillustrated new translation makes clear. The text forms part of a world view that sees human life as a trinity, summed up in the words Dharma, Artha and Kama."

Mooney quoted an extract from Haksar`s introduction, that Kama Sutra "is the art of living - about finding a partner, maintaining power in marriage, committing adultery, living as or with a courtesan, using drugs - and also about positions in sexual intercourse."

Its classical status as the world`s first comprehensive guide to erotic love comes from its concentration on "essential, unchangeable human attributes - lust, love, shyness, rejection, seduction, manipulation, that are also a part of human sexuality." Calling Haksar`s version of the Kama Sutra as "scrupulous and accessible," Boyd Tonkin wrote in The Independent: "Thanks to the under-the-counter renown of a famous Victorian translation in 1883 by the leading Orientalist Sir Richard Burton, most people in the West think of it as a manual of sex techniques.

Indian experts often dismiss this vulgar notion and evoke a philosophical account of good behaviour in courtship, love and marriage. As we can now discover from a scrupulous and accessible new version by the eminent Sanskrit scholar AND Haksar, both are right. Here sense and spirit, etiquette and foreplay, always intersect."

Haksar, a leading translator of Sanskrit texts, has chapter headings such as "Making a Pass", "Why Women Get Turned Off", "Girls to Avoid", "Is he Worthwhile?", "Getting rid of him", "Easy Women", "Moves towards sex," and "Some Dos and Don`ts".

Alexis Kirschbaum, editorial director at Penguin, said: "This is the most accurate, authentic version to date. Until now, the Kama Sutra has always been presented as a scandalous, 1960s hippie-influenced pornographic sex book. But it was originally written as advice to a courtly gentleman on how to live a well-rounded life, not just a passionate life." She added: "We are therefore stripping away all of those pornographic interpretations people have put on it and presenting the book as a modern and savvy guide for how to live well."


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First Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 11:36

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