Love in a Dead Language

Love in a Dead Language

Product ID: 3785

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Author: Lee Siegel
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2000
Language: English
Pages: 375
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0226756971


A love story, a translation of an Indian sex manual, an erotic farce, and a murder mystery.

The hero of this protean comedy, Leopard Roth, complains, I am a tenured full professor of Indian studies and a Sanskrit scholar, and yet never, never in my life, have I made love to an Indian woman. Imagining that such an intimacy would provide a deeper and truer understanding of what he has spent his academic life mastering, a happily married Roth becomes obsessed with Gupta, a nubile student and avatar of his fantasies of a sexually idyllic ancient realm.

Although this California-born Indian girl has no interest in India, the past, or him, Roth sets out to seduce her and;, at the same time, to teach her who she is in terms of the history of Indian culture. To that end, he begins to translate the Kamastura for her, interspersing that translation with a confessional commentary.

By inventing a bogus summer study abroad program, the professor is able to abduct Lalita to the land of her ancestors. After an emotionally tumultuous summer, Roth returns home only to be suspended from teaching, left by his wife, and beaten to death with a Sanskrit dictionary.

Roth's murder leaves the completion of his translation to graduate student Anang Saighal. The voices of Saighal, Roth, Professor Lee Siegel, Vatsyayana(author of the Kamasutra), with a chorus of other victims and celebrants of sexual desire, constitute an outrageous operatic portrayal of romantic love.

Follow these victims and celebrants on their hypertextual voyage - through movie posters, undergraduate essays, upside-down pages, the Kamasutra: Games of Love board game, and a proposed CD-ROM, to name just a few of the enticements - of folly and lust.

Love in a Dead Language exposes the complicities between the carnal , the erotic and the exotic, the false and the true. It is as raunchy as it is erudite, as hilarious as it is poignant, and as entertaining as it is profound.


A virtuoso feat - a work of brilliance and originality that is both intellectually stimulating and hysterically funny. ..A work that will delight anyone who cares about love, India or the pleasures of language. - Shashi Tharoor
Far Eastern Economic Review

Now along comes Lee Siegel, who mixes a bit of Borges with some Nabakov and then adds an erotic gloss from the Kamasutra to write Love in Dead Language, a witty, bawdy, language-rich farce of academic life whether it is post-modern or note, Love in a Dead Language is pulled off with such unhinged elan by Mr.. Siegel that it is also good fun, a clever, literate satire in which almost everything is both travestied, and strangely loved by its author. - Richard Bernstein The New York Times