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The Book of Love: The Story of the Kamasutra Paperback – Bargain Price, May 26, 2009

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Paperback, Bargain Price, May 26, 2009
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805090193
  • ASIN: B008SMNV9E
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,763,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tracing the celebrated sex manual from its palm-leaf manuscript origins in third-century India to contemporary coffee-table book, travel writer McConnachie adeptly explains that in addition to teaching 64 erotic techniques, the seven-volume Kamasutra details every aspect of a rich man's lifestyle, including grooming, home decor and entertainment. The treatise on pleasure also offers a rare ancient depiction of women's social and sexual lives. The author relates the tale of the famed British explorer and Orientalist Richard Burton, who brought the work to the West. An Indian Army officer in the 1840s, Burton devoted himself to the study of Indian languages and sexual culture. Around 1870, as a British consul, Burton became involved in a project to translate obscure erotic classics into English (though contrary to popular belief, he did not translate the Kamasutra himself) and masterminded the work's promotion in a repressive Victorian climate. McConnachie also relates the key role of Foster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot as Burton's collaborator. Though less titillating than the topic would imply, this is a solidly researched, absorbing glimpse into the history of erotica publishing. 8 pages of color illus. (May 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Kamasutra connotes sexy, but what is the so-called book of love, anyway? In an impressively researched, charming volume, McConnachie traces the Kamasutra’s history from its creation by the third-century sage Vatsyayana as a guide to the good life for urbane dandies. It does, indeed, list acrobatic sexual postures, but most of it concerns manners and the arts, as if Martha Stewart were collaborating with Hugh Hefner. Little being known of Vatsyayana, McConnachie describes the genre to which the Kamasutra belongs and places it in its original cultural context before turning to the man most associated in the Western mind with the Kamasutra, the central figure here, adventurer and author Richard Burton, who brought the Kamasutra to England despite draconian censorship laws. He sponsored the translation and provided notations that were as scandalous as (in some cases, more scandalous than) those of the original. A relatively brief summary of the Kamasutra’s continuing popularity, especially during the free-love sixties, concludes McConnachie’s work. Since not a single posture is described, consider it G-rated. --Patricia Monaghan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The _Kamasutra_ is a misunderstood book, and it has been misunderstood largely because of the censors who have given it a reputation for naughty depictions of sexual variety and athleticism. Not only was the original book without illustrations, it describes only eighteen positions for lovemaking, most of them quite within the realm of execution by non-gymnasts. It has nothing to do with tantric sex and much to do with civilized behavior. It describes an idealized way of life rather than being a practical sex manual for its time or for our own (the excellent _The Guide to Getting It On!_ is much more fun and informative for current purposes). The wild sex that the word "kamasutra" now promises (courtesy of those, especially the censors, who have enabled its sensationalizing) isn't a theme in the book itself. According to James McConnachie in _The Book Of Love: The Story of the Kamasutra_ (Metropolitan Books), the sex in the book is mannered and moral. How the book got the reputation as a repository for sensational sex secrets is McConnachie's elegantly-told tale, and it is fascinating, reaching back to the third century and all the way up into our own.

The author of the _Kamasutra_ was one Vatsyayana, who described himself as a white-haired scholar and thus long past sexual distractions. He was interested in rescuing a sexual tradition from an increasingly ascetic third-century India. Vatsyayana describes the life and surroundings of a smart, young urbanite with plenty of money and leisure. There are seven books within the _Kamasutra_, only one of which has to do with the surprisingly moderate bedroom acrobatics. When eighteenth century translators were eager to go to work on the text, it was surprisingly hard to find a full text to work with.
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