Author: Robert Greene
Softcover: 467 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books
First published 2001
ISBN: 0 670 89192 4

Robert Greene and Joost Elffer's follow up to the popular 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction illustrates aspects of successful seduction techniques with examples from history and literature. In a similar way to The 48 Laws, Greene deliberately abandons ethics to address the topic.

Elffer laces the main body of the text with supporting anecdotes in the margin. These anecdotes are printed in a purple ink. The text at the beginning and end pages of each chapter is contained in some geomatric shape. IMHO, the design is not as edgy or effective as the design from The 48 Laws.

Part 1: The Seductive Character

In Part 1, Greene names the 10 types of seducers. For each, he names one or more examples from history, key concepts to understanding the character, and a fitting metaphorical symbol.
  1. The Siren () embodies freedom from social mores.
  2. The Rake () is an acknowledged cad, but seduces with intense, if temporary, attention.
  3. The Ideal Lover interprets the lost fantasy or broken dream and embodies it just long enough.
  4. The Dandy stirs repressed desires with his or her freedom and invented persona.
  5. The Natural seduces with childlike spontaneity, sincerity, and unpretentiousness.
  6. The Coquette (♀) is a tease, a master of hope and frustration.
  7. The Charmer is seduction without sex, using pleasure, comfort, and the gift of attention.
  8. The Charismatic draws attention to him/herself increasing their desirability with detachment.
  9. The Star feeds on escapist fantasies with dreamy but elusive language.
  10. Greene collects all negative characteristics in a persona called the The Anti-Seducer.

The Seducer's Victims

Greene summarizes the characteristics of the potential marks for seduction, illustrating ways of identifying each type and highlighting their particular needs and weaknesses.
  1. The Disappointed Dreamer laments lost ideals and fantasies.
  2. The Pampered Royal are spoiled children.
  3. The New Prude protests too much.
  4. The Crushed Star pine for lost glory.
  5. The Novice are fatally curious but inexperienced.
  6. The Conqueror love power and the thrill of victory.
  7. The Exotic Fetishist wants to explore their dark secret.
  8. The Drama Queen fears boredom and creates excitement where none exists.
  9. The Professor are hypercritical, overdeveloped, and understimulated.
  10. The Beauty wants to be apprecaited for more than surface.
  11. The Aging Baby needs an adult figure to give them attention.
  12. The Rescuer can't help their maternal/paternal instincts. They want to save and reform.
  13. The jaded age of The Roué makes them vulnerable to youth and innocense.
  14. The Idol Worshipper try to fill internal emptiness with perfect lovers.
  15. The Sensualist are dazzled by their own senses, sometimes addicted.
  16. The Lonely Leader feels alone in their power.
  17. The Floating Gender wants to let their other side loose.

Part 2: The Seductive Process

Phase One: Separation--Stirring Interest and Desire
Your goal is to slowly wean your mark from their everyday anxieties and replace them with thoughts of you. This is mental seduction.

For each chapter in this Part, Greene lists key points to understanding the topic, a fitting metaphorical symbol, and the times when the the opposite advise might be true, called the "reversal."

  1. Choose the Right Victim, only those with a void to fill and likely to fall prey.
  2. Create a False Sense of Security--Approach Indirectly. Quick action will scare a mark away.
  3. Ambiguity is potent. Send Mixed Signals to intrigue and suggest depth.
  4. Appear to Be an Object of Desire--Create Triangles by making sure your mark sees someone else like them interested in you.
  5. Create a Need--Stir Anxiety and Discontent with unhappiness and discontent in their own lives. Create the very emptiness you will fill.
  6. Master the Art of Insinuation. If you create anxiety and discontent in an obvious manner, you will drive your mark away.
  7. Enter Their Spirit by being like them. People like people who are like themselves.
  8. Create Temptation with hints of the pleasures to come.

Phase Two: Separation--Lead Astray--Creating Pleasure and Confusion
Once your victim is intrigued and desirous of you, your next step is to increase desire and seal off available exits. This is emotional seduction.

  1. Keep Them in Suspense--What Comes Next?. Pleasant surprises keep them smiling but unbalanced.
  2. Use the Demonic Power of Words to Sow Confusion, specifically soft, pleasant, intoxicating words that indirectly stimulate fantasties.
  3. Pay Attention to Detail to titillate and ensure the appearance of sincerity.
  4. Poeticize Your Presence to avoid habituation, routine, and familiarity. Use mystery and distance.
  5. Disarm Through Strategic Weakness and Vulnerability, specifically laying blame on them and their best qualities for your errant thoughts and behavior.
  6. Confuse Desire and Reality--The Perfect Illusion. But only give them part of the illusion to increase desire.
  7. Isolate the Victim so the rest of the world fades away.

Phase Three: The Precipice--Deepening the Effect Through Extreme Measures
Now that they are captivated, make them desperate.

  1. Prove Yourself with a virtuous, chivalrous deed to justify their desire.
  2. Effect a Regression to their "unfinished business" from childhood.
  3. Indirectly Stir Up the Transgressive and Taboo to add a sense of danger.
  4. Use Spiritual Lures that disavow lust and misattribute destiny.
  5. Mix Pleasure with Pain by jamming their sensibilites, making them crave relief.
Moving in for the Kill
Finally, the physical seduction.
  1. Give Them Space to Fall--The Pursuer is Pursued. A brief rebuke will spark a panicked rush for you.
  2. Use Physical Lures (examples: slightly disordered appearance, suggestive behaviors) that put their mind to sleep but bring their lust to a boil. (These are increasingly less effective the more civilized, socialized, and educated your mark is.)
  3. Master the Art of the Bold Move, when your victim is burning but not expecting consummation.
  4. Beware the Aftereffects of post-coital disenchantment. If you seek a longer term relationship, you must re-seduce them with mystery and lightness. If you seek to end the relationship, do so swifty, and definitively.


Appendix A: Seductive Environment/Seductive Time
Like festival times in older cultures, which were special times and places set apart from everyday life where everyone had license for unusual behavior, your seduction should create a sacred space in which your target is free to respond.
  1. Create Theatrical Effects including lighting, clothing, and scripted beahviors.
  2. Use the visual language of pleasure, but only on the surface: reflectivity and luxury.
  3. Keep it crowded or lose. The crowd at a festival-like atmosphere supports phyical closeness.
  4. Manufacture mystical effects with props of an other-worldly nature that allude to destiny.
  5. Distort their sense of time--speed and youth through constant activity and stimulation.
  6. Create moments, peaks that will live in memory after you are separated.
Appendix B: Soft Seduction: How to Sell to the Masses
This appendix is about seduction of the masses by the mass media. As such it might as well be the strategic playbook for Fox News Network.
  1. Appear as news, never as publicity to avoid the taint of self-advertisement. People should encounter you first out of sales mode.
  2. Stir Basic Emotions like lust, patriotism, family values. Specifically do not try for rationality, which is more work and less effective.
  3. Make the medium the message. Hypnotize. Use images, not words, soothing colors, seductive backdrop, and the constant suggestion of speed or movement.
  4. Speak the target's language--be chummy, never, ever superior. People like people who are like themselves.
  5. Start a chain reaction--everyone is doing it. Act as if you already have a crowd of admirers, and herd mentality will make it seem easiest for your mark simply to join.
  6. Tell people who they are. Don't ever try to argue with your audience. You will lose. Instead, change their identity, desires, and sense of reality underneath them. Make them unhappy with themselves, and make their only hope of salvation your option.

Noder's note: For a terrific narrative example of the art of seduction, I suggest the book Les Liaisons Dangereux or its American film embodiment Dangerous Liasons.