From the “biting of a boar” and the “splitting of a bamboo” to advice on being a good spouse (and citizen), there’s a lot to learn from the Kama Sutra. Loosely translated as “love aphorisms,” this classic manual was written in Sanskrit between the first and sixth centuries A.D. by Indian nobleman and scholar Vatsyayana.
Anyone can publish a translation, so editions abound. But as with any tool, you need to select the right one for the job: Read on to see which version of this ancient text will perform best on your bedside table.
The Complete Kama Sutra: The First Unabridged Modern Translation of the Classic Indian Text
Translated by Alain Daniélou/Inner Traditions $19.95 (paperback)
This comprehensive and academic translation elegantly preserves the Kama Sutra as literature and closely follows Vatsyayana’s original work. Devoid of pictures, it requires a vivid imagination—and your partner will have to believe that you bought it for the “articles.”
The Bare Essentials
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Kama Sutra (2nd Edition)
By Johanina Wikoff, Ph.D. and Deborah S. Romaine/Alpha $18.95 (paperback)
You’ll definitely do the homework detailed in this contemporary, textbook-like volume. Sparsely supplemented with drawings, this guidebook strips down the Kama Sutra for the lover who wants a no-frills crib sheet to ecstasy.
The Complete Illustrated Kama Sutra
Edited by Lance Dane/Inner Traditions $25.00 (hardcover)
The most visually pleasing of the bunch, in the right company this balanced book might find its place on the coffee table. With 250 reproductions of original art and gracefully translated text, it will satisfy the sexually curious and educate the historically inclined.
Bicycle Built for Two
Kama Sutra: Sexual Positions for Him and for Her
By Anne Hooper/ DK Adult $15.00 (paperback)
No need for a lovers’ quarrel! This reversible book presents sexual positions engineered from his perspective on one side, hers on the other.