Book Summaries Psychology

Part 1: The Rake (The Art of Seduction)

In the same way that the Siren fulfills the male desire to forget about his social responsibilities, the Rake does the same for women.

His first weapon is language. The French actress Simone said, “How can one explain his conquests except by his extraordinary verbal power, and the musical timbre of his voice, put to the service of exceptional eloquence? For my sex is susceptible to words, bewitched by them, longing to be dominated by them.”

The Rake knows how to use words to seduce, flatter, hypnotize, infect, and insinuate, he has a demonic command of language – like the serpent that lead Eve into Temptation in the Garden of Eden.   In the same way that the Rake is promiscuous with words, he is promiscuous with women.  

He is archetypically known as Don Juan, a man who falls deeply with the women he comes across. Becomes completely absorbed by the moment, and deeply sensual, he provokes in her the desires she so strongly represses. Each woman feels, for a moment, that she is his most prized possession. This is in contrary to the boring husband, who thinks women are spiritual, and men are pigs.

But what is this force, then, by which Don Juan seduces? It is desire, the energy of sensuous desire. He desires in every woman the whole of womanhood. The reaction to this gigantic passion beautifies and develops the one desired,  who flushes in enhanced beauty by his reflection. As the enthusiast’s fire with seductive splendor illumines even those who stand in a casual relation to him, so Don Juan transfigures in a far deeper sense every girl.


The Rake is dishonest and disloyal. He has no interest in marriage, and yet he is coveted by many women. But he offers women something that is taboo, that is difficult to find, an experience of pure pleasure, a brush with danger, and a way out of her oppression. Marriage and rigid social structures fix women into boring routines, and a life with a mate who is constantly distracted.

Women are not tender creatures. Like men, they are deeply attracted to what is dangerous and forbidden. The word “Rake” comes from “Rakehell,” a man who rakes the coals of hell. There is a devilish component, and this is an important part of the fantasy.

To play the Rake, you must have the ability to let go and indulge in a purely sensual moment where the past and future don’t exist.

The Rake is an extreme personality. Impudent, sarcastic, and bitingly witty, he cares nothing for what anyone thinks. Paradoxically, this only makes him more seductive.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

Another seductive quality the rake has is his ability to make women want to reform him.

How many thought they would be the one to tame Lord Byron; how many of Picasso’s women thought they would finally be the one with whom he would spend the rest of his life.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

The Rake is relentlessly devoted to pleasure. This may seem weak but makes them exciting company, their disdain for convention, and a rebellious streak makes them seem dangerous. But the danger is hidden beneath a veneer of politeness, while letting it be known what you are up to behind the scenes.

Duke de Richelieu made his conquests as public as possible, exciting other women’s competitive desire to join the club of the seduced.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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