Kama Sutra back with a bang for new generation

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The Kamasutra of Vatsyayana – the book on sexual athletics and protocol which generations of British schoolboys passed from hand to sweaty hand until the pages fell out – is back, reinvigorated.

The oldest Hindu textbook of erotic love, first published 1,700 years ago, will be available in the Oxford World Classics series from 28 March, alerting a new century of imaginative lovers to the Seven Types of Kissing, the eight stages of oral sex and the Advances That May Win a Virgin.

The book is newly translated by Wendy Doniger, a religious historian, and Sudhir Kakar, a psychoanalyst. Their new version of the Sanskrit text reveals the shortcomings of the only previous translation, made by Sir Richard Burton, the legendary British explorer, in 1883.

For years, schoolboy readers were puzzled to find, in Burton's translation, the male and female genitalia described as, respectively, the "lingam" and the "yoni". Though they are Sanskrit words, they do not appear in the original work – they were Burton's attempt to make the accounts of sexual calisthenics more exotic and orientally inscrutable.

Burton, a prototypical chauvinist pig, plays down the book's emphasis on the importance of a woman being gratified in sexual encounters; he also says that a wife should never scold her husband for infidelity, even though the book explicitly recommends that she does exactly that.

For those who best remember the Kamasutra for its eye-opening itemisation of scores of copulatory "positions", the new edition offers only a disappointing four pages of, among others, "the crab", "the squeeze" and "the elephant cow". But there are compensations – especially the chapters on "Modes of Slapping and the Accompanying Moaning", "Ways to get Money Out of Him" (for courtesans only) and "Methods of Increasing the Size of the Male Organ".

The last-named technique involves ground cherry juice, sweet potatoes, water leeches, deadly nightshade, buffalo butter and heliotrope, and yes, youare advised to try this at home...

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