The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana

I was surprised by how analytic this text is, given the subject matter. No, it’s not simply a catalog of sexual positions. This is an unexpected glimpse into the social relations of an ancient and elaborate civilization, and more fundamentally, into the ramifications of love and sexuality. Lengthy sections, for instance, include systematic considerations for courtesans who make a living by shacking up with one or more men. It’s all delivered in a strangely amoral style, completely practical, with little more than a postscript to say, “Act with the good of others in mind.” There is much that is archaic here, but also plenty to learn that is timeless. [New York: E. P. Dutton]

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