Hanif Kureishi on the Kama Sutra

Hanif Kureishi on the Kama Sutra in the Guardian, great piece!

It suggests that the gentleman should keep away from lepers, malodorous women and anyone with white spots. It is arch, comical and amazing – less Byron and more the sort of thing that Jeeves would have said to a priapic Bertie Wooster had Bertie been Indian and PG Wodehouse without the sense to omit sex from his books. It states, for example, that “intercourse with two women who have good feelings for each other is known as the ‘combination’. The same with many women is called ‘the herd of cows’.”… If it turned out that the woman was also consulting a similar manual then the two characters in this drama would be playing roles that would ensure they’d remain outside the experience. Both would be in a fixed place and the relationship would merely be an exchange of fantasies….Like Alfred Kinsey’s reports at the end of the 1940s and early 50s, the Kama Sutra tries hard to turn passion into science.

A genuinely useful self-help guide to bearing pleasure might have to contain advice about putting up with the envy, contempt and hatred of oneself as well as of others, along with any self-disgust, guilt and punishment that may follow. It would be an education in determination and ruthlessness and, to a certain extent, in selfishness and in forgetting….It might be important to recognise that our pleasures have to be guarded from our own aggression, much as our freedoms are.