I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
Penguin Classics has come out with a lovely new edition of the KAMA SUTRA just in time for Valentine's Day. Most people have a very narrow idea of this classic work as a piece of erotic literature but it is actually a wonderful historical work about living well. "Kama" means desire and this particular "sutra" serves as a guide to love, pleasure, and relationships. When I read this book many many years ago, I expected a guide to various erotic practices but I was surprised to see that it was much much more! The book begins with descriptions of life and daily routines for girls and young men. Book Two focuses on the many facets of Sexual Union. There is even a chapter on "Scratching!" Book Three is all about wooing and winning a girl for the purposes of marriage. Book Four focuses on the role of the wife. The KAMA SUTRA continues onto other topics concerning relationships and love and the general interaction of the sexes. This particular version has a very nice introduction that goes into the history of the work and its author as well as its continued significance in modern times and its influence on literature.
Personally, I enjoyed the section on life and conduct of the "only" wife. Here is a tidbit:
"When a little offended at some misdoing of her husband, she does not speak to him too harshly. If she has to reproach him, she does it when they are alone or among close friends. But she never resorts to sorcery, for nothings destroys trust more than this, according to Gonardiya. She refrains from using bad language, looking daggers, speaking with her face turned away, standing in the doorway and staring, chatting with someone in the park and lingering in lonely places."
I myself have definitely been guilty of "looking daggers" although I have yet to resort to sorcery.
BOTTOM LINE: A wonderful and often humorous classic worth revisiting.
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