Lee Siegel’s English translation of the Amarushataka, an aristocratic collection of eighth-century amorous Sanskrit poems, is at once playful and erudite, amusing and poignant, carnal and sublime. The stanzas are little scenes from a panoramic comedy of erotic love.
The characters: Innocent girls and passionate ladies; devoted husbands and faithless rogues; female confidantes who help, console, or betray their friends.
The plot: First love, sexual union, separation (because of parents, friends, or the woman’s jealous anger because the man has another mistress, or perhaps he must go on a journey), reunion, re-separation, re-reunion.
The theme is the delight of the game, the deliciousness of courtship, and the sweetness of sex.