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Foucault and the KamasutraThe Courtesan, the Dandy, and the Birth of Ars Erotica as Theater in India$
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Sanjay K. Gautam

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226348308

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226348582.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 05 April 2020

The Courtesan and the Origins of the Nāṭyaśāstra: From Ars Erotica to Ars Theatrica

The Courtesan and the Origins of the Nāṭyaśāstra: From Ars Erotica to Ars Theatrica

(p.113) 4 The Courtesan and the Origins of the Nāṭyaśāstra: From Ars Erotica to Ars Theatrica
Foucault and the Kamasutra

Sanjay K. Gautam

University of Chicago Press

Chapter Four focuses on the origin of theater as theater of love as reflected in the Nāṭyaśāstra—the founding text of theater, music, and dance—in classical India. In contrast to much of the scholarship that locates the birth of theater in religion and rituals, the author locates the birth of theater in the figures of the courtesan and the dandy. The chapter shows that the three figures of the actress, the actor, and the director that together constituted the theater were historically anchored in, and derivative of, the three figures of the courtesan, the dandy-consort of the courtesan (vaiśika), and the dandy-teacher-advisor of the courtesan (viṭa), respectively. Given that the two male figures of the dandy were historically derivative of the figure of the courtesan, the courtesan was at the heart of the theater as it came into being in Indian culture. If erotics and aesthetics in Indic culture seemed in complete continuity with each other that was because they both had their origin in the same figure of the courtesan. The chapter concludes by noting that just as sexual-erotic pleasure, aesthetic pleasure was also an event and experience of desubjectivation as a loss of the sense of identity.

Keywords:   aesthetic pleasure, Apsaras, celestial courtesan, classical Indian theater, courtesan, kaiśikī, nāṭaka, Nāṭyaśāstra, prakaraṇa, theater

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