↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Friday, March 27, 2009

Richard Burton's Kama Sutra Quest

Richard Burton was a fascinating figure. He came to Sind (Sinde) when he was barely out of teens and scouted the countryside (read spied) for Charles Napier of the peccavi fame. Linguist, translator, traveller, discoverer, author - there were many sides to his personlaity. Too bad, after his death his then wife burned all his papers ~~~t

Progressive sexuality or pornography?
In the final decade of his life, Burton launched a direct assault on the forces of Mrs. Grundy, declaring his intention to cause her to “howl on her big bum.” He began by collaborating with the Indian civil servant F. F. Arbuthnot to privately publish English translations of the Kama Sutra and Ananga-Ranga. The actual translation of these works, which were originally written in Sanskrit, was carried out by several Indian scholars hired by Arbuthnot, while Burton polished the English prose, supplied introductions and footnotes, and oversaw their printing and marketing. In order to avoid prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act, he sold the books by subscription and distributed them by mail, using a fictive organization, the Kama Shastra Society, and fictive place of publication, Cosmopoli, while keeping his and Arbuthnot’s names off the title pages.Burton employed the same stratagem with his subsequent translations of the Perfumed Garden, a medieval Arabic sex manual.

His magnum opus, the ten-volume Book of a Thousand Nights (followed by the six-volume Supplemental Nights), was printed, marketed, and distributed in similar fashion, but in this instance Burton proudly placed his name on the title pages and appended to the final volume a “Terminal Essay” that openly expressed his views on sexuality. In so doing, he sparked a vigorous public debate about purity and pornography, desire and deviance, state regulation and personal freedom.


Post a Comment

<< Home