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WEDNESDAY
11th September 2002
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Asian Life

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Wendy Doniger
27th March 2002


Professor Wendy Doniger is known for being rude, crude and very lewd in the hallowed portals of Sanskrit Academics. All her special works have revolved around the subject of sex in Sanskrit texts ranging from Siva: The Erotic Ascetic to Tales of Sex and Violence.

Fellow Sanskrit academics and Wendy herself feel it was only a matter of course before she got round to doing her pièce de résistance - the definitive English translation of that most famed sexual text, the Kamasutra.

From the first, Wendy has been enamoured by the rich colours of Indian dress, paintings, and as she discovered the more she studied, Indian eroticism. It is almost a bit of a crusade with her - she feels heavily let down by the botched job done by the first Western ‘scholar’ to attempt it, Richard Burton, a man whom Wendy feels had some serious hang ups about sex and specifically a woman’s enjoyment of it.

Never one to shy away from sex, she threw herself into the job of translating the text. She thinks the work is fascinating and is so much more than just a sex manual. She was particularly interested by the parts that justify adultery and the list of ways to get rid of a man. She feels that the book is basically about how to live the good life, it’s about wooing, and power in a relationship.

When she was translating it (over a period of a few years and numerous Sanskrit classes), she frequently found herself having to take cold showers . She certainly doesn’t feel there’s anything dirty or pornographic about the text. It was part of an ancient culture and fulfilled a very necessary and interesting function.

Wendy Doniger answers some quickfire questions


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Wendy Doniger interviewed by Russell Peters

Also on this show
Ray Panthaki
Ismail Merchant
Zakir Hussain

 



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