An Indian Classic. Perhaps even the most famous one, although probably more for its subjet matter more than its literary content. The Kama Sutra was not originally on my Classics list, but what is a girl to do when her fiance comes home with a present from the bookstore? (even though it was on sale).


The edition he found

…is a new translation built mainly upon Vatsyayana’s writings and commentaries on those writings. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book – the ”book of love”, supposedly filled with descriptions of things far too complicated for an everyday human being… (except if you are an athlete and perhaps also an olympian medalist). But imagine my genuine surprise.


It handles things quite ”scientifically”

…and is in no way erotic. In fact, only one out of seven parts discusses ”Sexual Union” while the rest focuses on more cultural issues and etiquette. Most of which are clearly outdated, but hence I have a great general historical interest – I found it both fascinating and, at times, comical to read about how you were supposed to behave around, and treat a woman 2000 or so years ago – also how a woman herself is to treat males of various castes and social standing. In a way, it is not so different from those classic 19th-20th century ”house wife” books – and when taking time to reflect, it is not so much different from our woman world view before 20th century. The only difference is that in India, it’s been written down in, perhaps you might say, pure scientific matter of fact.


The Kama Sutra

…handles subjects of marriage, hetero- and homosexuality, monogami and polygami alike, how to steal a woman from another man – as well as the life of courtesans, and last mot not least, how to attract a woman by extra ”medicines”. A large part tells of how to act a wife, how to treat family and friends and so on, but in the mist of outdated views, there were a few gems worth quoting.


Notable passages

  • The man who is ingenious and wise, who is accompanied by a friend, and who knows the intentions of others, and the proper time and place for doing everything, can win over even a woman who is hard to be obtained.

  • Men and women, being of the same nature, feel the same kind of pleasure, and therefore a man should marry such a woman as will love him ever afterwards.

  • [...] though a man loves a girl ever so much, he never succeeds in winning her without a great deal of talking.

  • It is said that a man does not care for what is easily gained, and desires a thing which can only be obtained with difficulty.

  • The extent of the love of women is not known, even to those who are the objects of their affection, on account of its subtlety, and on account of the avarice and natural intelligence of womankind.


Final thoughts…

I don’t know if this is a book I would recommend to anyone ”out of the blue”, but it definitely is a worthwhile read, not so much for the tips of ”congress”, as for its historical account of the culture of India.