Seduction A History from Enlightenment to the Present
By: Clement Knox
I really wanted to read something fun for Valentine’s Day and this sounded like a good pick. While it was a lot drier than I imagined it was still an all around interesting book. Like most parts of life and history and seduction- some parts are just more fun than others.
This starts in a very literary way discussing the two very different outcomes of Samuel Richardson’s novels Pamela and Clarissa- the seduction laws of the day and a whole lot of gender politics by nature of the subject.
The Richardson section was especially interesting because it pretty much it pretty much introduced fandom and the idea of going for the bad guy right up to excusing him raping the female character. Some things are inherent I suppose.
There’s also a great deal about Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley both haunted by their love lives to some extent. A little too much about Casanova’s life not involving seductions, etc.
Actually probably the juiciest seduction bits in this section were about Lord Byron in Shelley’s chapter. What a shit head.
Between Casanova and Jack Johnson a boxer at the turn of the last century (the first African American heavyweight champion) who only dated and married white women and brought a whole ton of legal trouble for it- Johnson was much more interesting.
Someone should really make a movie on Johnson’s life. There’s an award winning role just sitting right there. I mean I’m sure there has been a movie but an updated one.
The book does delve into the idea of race and religion in seduction laws and how they absolutely were legally sanctioned racism.
So in a sense the book was not what I expected and not nearly as much fun but it was extremely interesting. I wouldn’t change the subjects because it does get the point across but maybe some streamlining and editing could have helped. Actually editing definitely could have helped as there were two mistakes that jumped out at me. (And I’m notorious for not picking up on that stuff!)
Recommend: Mostly yes.
But be really interested in the legal and literary history of the subject. It’s interesting but not as much fun as the cover and the title might suggest.