I was flipping through the Kama Sutra yesterday and turns out to be much more than a sex manual! It’s a guide to etiquette and custom in many areas of life and offers really interesting glimpses into a culture very different from ours. Though some of it is practically timeless, for example:
The following are the kinds of friends:
- One who has played with you in the dust, i.e. in the childhood
- One who is bound by an obligation
- One who is of the same disposition and fond of the same things
- One who is a fellow student
- One who is acquainted with your secrets and faults and who’s faults and secrets are also known to you
- One who is a child of your nurse
- One who’s brought up with you
- One who is a hereditary friend
I hadn’t realized, but it’s also very Talmudic in its approach.
- Here is the rule or custom.
- The followers of X add an interpretation.
- The followers of Y disagree.
- [a digression about the theory and history of the legal principle used by the followers of Y.]
Highly recommended. The edition linked above is especially nice and uses the Richard Burton translation — I’ve also enjoyed Burton’s translation of the Arabian Nights which is a book you can dip into again and again as you please, all through your life. John Barth is a big fan of the Arabian Nights as well.