'When the wheel of sexual ecstasy is in full motion, there is no textbook at all, and no order.' The Kamasutra is the oldest extant Hindu textbook of erotic love. It is about the art of living - about finding a partner, maintaining power in a marriage, committing adultery, living as or with a courtesan, using drugs - and also about the positions in sexual intercourse. It was composed in Sanskrit, the literary language of ancient India, sometime in the third century CE. It combines an encyclopaedic coverage of all imaginable aspects of sex with a closely observed sexual psychology and a dramatic, novelistic narrative of seduction, consummation, and disentanglement. Best known in English through the highly mannered, padded, and inaccurate nineteenth-century translation of Sir Richard Burton, the text is presented here in an entirely new translation into clear, vivid, sexually frank English, together with three commentaries: translated excerpts from the earliest and most famous Sanskrit commentary (13th century) and from a twentieth-century Hindi commentary, and explanatory notes by the two translators.
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Wendy Doniger has written a prize-winning on sexual deception, The Bedtrick (2000, Univ. of Chicago Press), and translated the Rig Veda and The Laws of Manu for Penguin. Sudhir Kakar is a psychoanalyst whose most recent books are The Ascetic of Desire (1999), a fictionalized account of the life of Vatsyayana, and the novel Ecstasy (2001).
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