The Kama Sutra: More Than Tab A and Slot B
By Alexa Day
Want to hear a secret? Sure you do.
Pretty soon, we’re going to announce a giveaway. Aren’t you excited? Nothing like a little random chance to make the day go by faster, I find.
But while you’re waiting to hear more about the giveaway, I thought we’d spend a few minutes with one of the classics.
Do you have a copy of the Kama Sutra?
I do. It’s not a new copy; I’ve had it for years. Mine is the Danielou translation. It’s complete, unlike the Burton translation. Burton was known to skip over the parts that made him uncomfortable and then use euphemism to render the rest of the book incomprehensible. Not so with Danielou. It’s still not the easiest thing in the world to read, but at least it’s all here.
My copy isn’t illustrated. There’s a large contingent of readers who question the utility of a Kama Sutra without illustrations. I’m not sure I’m convinced, either. Reading about the sex positions without the illustrations is a bit like reading assembly instructions without diagrams. Sure, you’ll probably get the project finished eventually, but you will wish for a picture many times before you’re done, even if the picture isn’t especially helpful.
Truth be told, though, the positions aren’t the most interesting part of the Kama Sutra. Not even close. So if you have a copy with no illustrations, have no fear.
The best part of the Kama Sutra, to my mind, is that it will make you think.
There’s a chapter entitled Virile Behavior in Women, which describes the alternatives available to women who had not been satisfied by their lovers. Scratching and biting each get their own chapter. I never imagined there was so much to know about scratching. Apparently, there are eight kinds of scratch marks, where I would only have counted one.
There are six chapters on courtesans, and a great deal of attention is devoted to the emotional difference between a relationship with a lover and commerce with a courtesan. And of course, there’s the challenge of reading the positions without illustrations, if you want to put your visual imagination through its paces.
The Kama Sutra isn’t a how-to, despite its format. It’s more of a cultural study. But it’s interesting to examine what life the Kama Sutra brings to today’s sexual culture.
And it lends a bit of weight to one’s shelves. Right?
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