by Wendy Doniger
Sounds True, 2003
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on May 28th 2005
For two and a half hours, Wendy Doniger
talks about the Kama Sutra. Doniger is a distinguished Professor
of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago, and she explains the
historical context of the Kama Sutra, also comparing it with modern
approaches to sexuality. She says little about the most famous part of the
work, describing various sexual positions, because now we have many explicit
sex manuals that depict those positions very clearly with photographs or
detailed drawings. She explains that now the book is more relevant for its
discussion of eroticism, the psychology of preparing for sex, how to keep a
partner when he or she is losing interest, or when to use biting and scratching
in sex. Maybe most interesting is the discussion of the morality of sex,
featuring such issues as attitudes towards homosexuality and the pleasure of
pleasure and sexuality in a well-lived life.
Doniger does an excellent job of
explaining the ancient work clearly and showing how its particular assumptions
and references to life in northern India can be translated into modern terms.
These include ways to freshen breath in the morning, leisure activities, or
items of clothing, as well as more pervasive differences such as attitudes
towards women as the property of men. Doniger emphasizes that the Kama
Sutra is in some ways compares favorably with modern sexual knowledge. For
example, it not only says that women should achieve orgasms in sex with men,
but provides ways for men to tell whether women have climaxed and how to get
them to climax through stimulation of the G-spot.
It's not entirely clear who would
benefit from listening to this audiobook, since there are probably more modern
books that would provide more detailed practical advice about sex and
relationships. However, it is interesting as an introduction to a famous book
and Doniger provides a clear and thoughtful commentary that will make the Kama
Sutra much easier to understand and appreciate.
© 2005 Christian
Perring. All rights reserved.
Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities
Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also
editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.