The season’s most talked-about all-purpose personal strategy guide and philosophical compendium” said Newsweek of Robert Greene’s bold, elegant, and ingenious manual of modern manipulation, The 48 Laws of Power. Now Greene has once again mined history and literature to distill the essence of seduction, the most highly refined mode of influence, the ultimate power trip.
The Art of Seduction is a masterful synthesis of the work of thinkers such as Freud, Ovid, Kierkegaard, and Einstein, as well as the achievements of the greatest seducers throughout history. From Cleopatra to John F. Kennedy, from Andy Warhol to Josephine Bonaparte, The Art of Seduction gets to the heart of the character of the seducer and his or her tactics, triumphs, and failures.
The seducer’s many faces include the Siren, the Rake, the Ideal Lover, the Dandy, the Natural, the Coquette, the Charmer, and the Charismatic. Twenty-four maneuvers will guide readers through the seduction process, providing cunning, amoral instructions for and analysis of this fascinating, all-pervasive form of power. Just as beautifully packaged and every bit as essential.
The Art of Seduction – PDF
The book is also pleasurable for entirely different reasons. Greene is a master of the historical anecdote. Every chapter has well-chosen illustrative examples from literature and history. Although he does not preclude rational love between consenting adults by any means, there is enough evidence here of eternal truths about relations which apply to males and females alike (albeit with different ‘modes’).
The person who will be entranced by this book will be the natural seducer, one who takes simple pleasure in pleasure and treats life like a game. I was not entranced, just interested and appreciative. Greene occasionally applies his analysis of technique to politics and there are many ‘democratic’ era cases of seductive power – Marilyn Monroe, Errol Flynn, Duke Ellington are all cited at length.
He refers to the festival and to the theatre often, but also to seduction as the means by which our ‘dark side’, which is important to us to recognize in order to be whole persons, is allowed full play. I would add that the transgressive aspects of seduction can allow individuation to both parties – it would often seem that seducers get trapped in the game, while the seduced move on into something different.
Greene more than once tells stories that suggest that seduction becomes an integral memory that molds the future mind for the better, removing someone from past habits that do not reflect who they are. Naturally ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses pops up as a case study in more than one chapter (designed to be a sequence that draws you into the seduction process).
The Presidente de Tourvel is presented as being liberated from her boredom and obligations by the cynical seduction by Valmont. There is truth in this. Greene is far too simplistic here about politics (one wishes he would just say ‘people are stupid and have done with it) but he is far from simplistic on sexual psychology.
He offers a sound corrective to moralists who, like repressed ideologies in politics, seem to leave more pain and suffering in their wake than do cynics and a-moralists. Strangely and counter-intuitively, while some seducers come across as the worst sort of bully (D H Lawrence was an utter monster), others come across in quite a different way – providing a sort of liberatory service that costs them far more than it costs their alleged ‘victims’.
In short, seduction emerges to be morally far more interesting than we thought. Quite often we see the ostensible predator out-classed by a skillful ‘victim’ so that roles are reversed … If morality is good order as dictated by some Iron Age text, then seduction is to be consigned to the pits of hell. But if it is the hand-maiden or servant of creative individuation, then it is conventional morality that might stand in the dock.
Of course, nothing is so simple. Just as religion brings solace as well as repression, so some seducers are simply cynical and cruel while others are exciting and challenging. This book is recommended not as a ‘how to’ (since, for most people, it is would be like reading a book on how to win an Olympic Medal), but as an insight into what we are as human beings.
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|Book Title||The Art of Seduction|