The Ascetic of Desire

The Ascetic of Desire

Product ID: 1462

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Author: Sudhir Kakar
Publisher: Penguin/Viking
Year: 1998
Language: English
Pages: 309
ISBN/UPC (if available): 6708793636


A fitting fictional counterpart to the Kama Sutra, the ancient sexual treatise, The Ascetic of Desire is a major literary event of the year. The novel claims to take off from where Vasayana left off in the 4th century AD.

The author, a psychoanalyst by profession, in this superb novel brings to life the reign of Samundragupta with all its pomp and grandeur. The story revolves around the great sage Vatsayana who narrates his life story to an eager pupil bent upon penning his biography. Along with copious notes on Vatsayana's life, the subject jots down erotic slokas from Kama Sutra. Along the way, the pupil discovers that guru is incapable of sexual performance himself. Confused, flabbergasted, the disciple gives up writing the biography altogether.

With characteristic insight of a psychoanalyst, the author plumbs the psychological depths of a plethora of characters who are at various stages of discovering their sexual identities. What emerges through incidence and superimposition is a powerful narrative of lust and sensuality imbued with an old-world charm and a surprising sense of irony.

Explaining the title of his book, Kakkar says : The only thing one knows about Vatsayana is that he wrote Kama Sutra as a religious student, who was obsessed with the idea of sex and desire, but who did not indulge in it. Hence the title. Its aim is to delight the senses and stimulate the mind.