Redeeming the Kamasutra
by Wendy Doniger
Oxford. 182 pages, $24.95
I HAVE TO CONFESS that I am exactly the naïve (perhaps prurient is more accurate) reader that Wendy Doniger has in mind for her concise yet scholarly study of the Kamasutra. In a dim corner of a bookstore, I have probably leafed through an illustrated edition of the notorious Indian classic, more interested in the contortionist sex poses than the text itself. In any case, I think of it as a catalog of sexual positions more than anything else.
But the Kamasutra is far more than that, and no one could be a better authority for exploring its literary history, cultural context, and sexual politics than Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago, and the co-author of a 2002 Oxford University Press translation along with psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar.