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Summary

When is seduction about more than just sex? In this brilliantly original history, Clement Knox explores these questions as well as the philosophy, legality, politics, art and literature of a force that underwrites our world.

In the first history of its kind, Clement Knox reassesses our ideas of seduction from the Garden of Eden to the world of #MeToo. This is a grand narrative that encompasses Casanova’s pursuit of pleasure, the fight for women’s rights waged by early feminists Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and Caroline Norton, the travails of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, hounded for his violation of America’s labyrinthine, racialised seduction laws, and the strange world of vampires, hypnotists and monsters conjured up by Nazis and xenophobes seeking to stoke social and sexual panic. Seduction is a problem that refuses to go away. Seemingly laid to rest during the sexual revolution, as men and women across the world shrugged off the taboos and strictures of the past, it has exploded back into public consciousness as we grapple with a world populated by pick-up artists, incels and online dating algorithms.

Modern, big-thinking and enormously entertaining, Knox offers an extraordinary range of stories, and shows how our ideas about desire, courtship, and power have always developed in step with a changing world.

©2020 Clement Knox (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

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