The Book of Love: The Story of the Kamasutra

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Macmillan, May 27, 2008 - History - 267 pages
2 Reviews
An engaging, enlightening “biography” of the ancient Hindu manuscript that became the world’s most famous sex manual The Kamasutra is one of the world’s best-known yet least-understood texts, its title instantly familiar but its actual contents widely misconstrued. In the popular imagination, it is a work of practical pornography, a how-to guide of absurdly acrobatic sexual techniques. Yet the book began its long life in third-century India as something quite different: a seven-volume vision of an ideal life of urbane sophistication, offering advice on matters from friendship to household decoration. Over the ensuing centuries, the Kamasutra was first celebrated, then neglected, and very nearly lost—until an outrageous adventurer introduced it to the West and earned literary immortality.
In lively and lucid prose, James McConnachie provides a rare, intimate look at the exquisite civilization that produced this cultural cornerstone. He details the quest of famed explorer Richard F. Burton, who—along with his clandestine coterie of libertines and iconoclasts—unleashed the Kamasutra on English society as a deliberate slap at Victorian prudishness and paternalism. And he describes how the Kamasutra was driven underground into the hands of pirate pornographers, until the end of the Lady Chatterley obscenity ban thrust it once more into contentious daylight. The first work to tell the full story of the Kamasutra, The Book of Love explores how a remarkable way of looking at the world came to be cradled between book covers—and survived.

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The book of love: the story of the kamasutra

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McConnachie's writing experience comes principally, it seems, from his role as author or coauthor of more than a dozen "Rough Guides," and while it might be a slight exaggeration to call this a "rough ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

James McConnachie graduated from the University of Oxford in 1996. He has taught in Nepal, and has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books for Rough Guides. His articles and book reviews have appeared in The Telegraph, The Observer, The Independent, and The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. He lives in Winchester, U.K.

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