04 December, 2020

Expatiation Riddled By A Tale

Das’s erudite treatise on the nature of desire—its opposite pulls and its shape in literature—is weakly illumined by a fictional prop with cardboard characters

Expatiation Riddled By A Tale

The first thing that strikes the reader of Gurcharan Das’s new book, Kama: The Riddle of Des­ire, is its sheer size: Is there rea­lly, one wonders, 550 pages worth of fresh insight into what he describes as a “sense-intoxicating emotion”? As it happens, there is, and Kama is a creditable attempt to encapsulate in a single, voluminous tome the author’s informed grasp of the subject of desire. The prose flows smoothly (despite the odd repetition of a sentence on the same page, and a few typographical errors), and there is strength in Das’s exposition, enriched by an insightful reading of texts. Marcel Proust makes regular intellectual appearances, as does wisdom from the Mah­abharata. We learn from the Panchatantra, even as we encounter Sextus Propertius and Anna Karen­ina. The book is at once a philosophical rumination as it is an explication of legendary works of literature, and on the whole stands on sound legs, adding to the author’s already imp­ressive bibliography.

There are, however,...



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