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Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Kama Sutra book delights UK readers

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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