Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Under the Covers, Between the Sheets

Ryan Bloom reviews a new translation of the Kama Sutra, and says it's not all about sex.
Sex sells. If you want to push a product, add a dash of sex appeal. Even Sir Richard Francis Burton and his band of co-translators realized this back in 1883: When they first introduced Vatsyayana’s Kama Sutra to the Western world, they sold it as a sex manual. More than a hundred years later, the publishers at Penguin Books know that not much has changed.

Orientalist scholar and Sanskrit translator A.N.D. Haksar’s new interpretation of the 2,000-year-old Indian text allows a fresh opportunity for Penguin to play upon our eroticized beliefs about the Kama Sutra. For this latest incarnation, the publishers hired French graphic designer Malika Favre to create a series of alluring alphabet images for the book’s cover. Each image, composed of a sexually positioned man and woman, forms a letter in the title, such that when you unfold the flaps and lay the book flat, Kama Sutra is spelled out in scenes of cavorting couples. Read more

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