The Book of Love: The Story of the Kamasutra

James McConnachie, Author . Metropolitan $27.50 (267p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8818-2

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)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4299-4173-0
Paperback - 284 pages - 978-1-84354-374-9
Paperback - 267 pages - 978-0-8050-9019-2
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