Danielou's French translation of the Kama sutra

thompson at jlc.net thompson at jlc.net
Thu Apr 3 22:23:40 UTC 1997

Well, it appears that Jean Fezas has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt
that Danielou was no Sanskritist [D's translation of KS 1.2.23 is
eye-opening, though I find myself more amused than aghast: D's
interpretations of "adya" and "zvaH" look almost like bad puns!].

As for D's gloss [rather than translation?] of puruSAyita, perhaps it is
driven to some extent by D's "personal preferences", but it appears from
his English translation of both the Sanskrit and Hindi commentaries that
these commentators understood this chapter more or less as D did. [Can you
verify this, JF?]

My sense is that D relied heavily on the Hindi commentary, and was not
interested or perhaps even prepared to offer a literal translation of
vAtsyAyana's KS.

Of course, I accept the distinction that Jean Fezas makes between fiction
and translation, and now that I have access to the Sanskrit text [thanks to
JF!] I know not to trust D's translation.  But I'm inclined to be tolerant,
since I still believe that D knew more or less what vAtsyAyana was talking
about [though I do not defend his translation, by any means!].

General question: can one be a bad philologist, but still a good Indologist
in some sense?

Thanks again to JF for making the text of the KS available.

Best wishes,
George Thompson

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