18 November 2014
[BURTON, Richard Francis.] The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana. London and Benares: for the Hindoo Kama Shastra Society, 1883.
7 parts in 1 volume, octavo (c.251 x c.152 mm). Additional general title-page printed in red and black. (Small abrasion in the blank margin of the last leaf.) Contemporary black cloth, the upper side titled in gilt, both sides with a ruled border blocked in blind, endpapers printed with an all-over foliate pattern (bound without the paper wrappers, cloth corners rubbed, light wear to the edges); later green half morocco chemise and slipcase. Provenance: Joseph F. Milligan of Leeds, bookseller (small label) -- J.B. Rund (bookplate)
FIRST EDITION, VERY RARE FIRST ISSUE OF BURTON'S KAMA SUTRA. ONE OF ONLY 250 COPIES, this one in excellent condition. This is the first translation into a European language of the central text of Asian erotology, and the basis of all other European translations. The Kama Shastra Society had a membership of two: Burton and 'Bunny' Arbuthnot, a close friend since their days in India in the 1850s and a fellow student of Hindu erotic literature. The Obscene Publications Act of 1857 applied only to publicly circulated material; the 'Society' circumvented its strictures and its publications were anonymous. But it was short-lived, commencing with this work and ending with Burton's death in 1890. As early as 1923 Penzer noted that 'the edition in parts was soon exhausted, and is now practically unobtainable.' Casada 83; Gay-Lemonnyer II, 757-59; Penzer p. 163; Spink 83.
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