“Hanky-panky” is American slang for doing what comes naturally. On this Valentine’s Day week, I offer you Swoon, a book about great seducers—and why women love them—one I knocked off in an afternoon. It is author Betsy Prioleau’s third book about hanky-panky. (Her book Seductress examined history’s most powerful sirens.) Betsy Prioleau is the wife of probably the nicest doctor I’ve ever had, a New York gentleman whose only bad habit is having his practice in the city. What the author tells us is that rather than being cold lady-killers, Romeos love women. In fact they’re fools for love.
I completely agree. The first requirement for a seducer is to be mad about the woman. In order to seduce in general, one needs charm above anything else. And one needs to adore women. Charm and persistence equal victory, but if those two fail, then try laughter. Make a woman laugh and you’re halfway home. These are Taki’s Tips, which are available to young men who subscribe to The Spectator or follow Taki’s Mag.
Great seducers are no longer “le gout du jour.” They’ve been replaced by the very rich, the masters of the universe who more often than not look like Michael Bloomberg or worse. Feminism hasn’t helped. In the past, a disproportionate number of lady-killers traded on the charisma of creativity. Byron, Alfred de Musset, Franz Liszt, Gabriele D’Annunzio, among others, were all busy creating while seducing the fairer sex.
Casanova, whose name became a noun, is a case in point. He was an actor, an inventor, a violinist, an author of more than twenty books, a playwright, a spy, and many other things, but first and foremost he was a seducer. No crude Hollywood producer he. When he seduces a young French girl in his youth, he discovers that she is the first “jeune fille spirituelle” and feels a kind of ecstasy as a result. In a Geneva inn, she writes with her diamond on the window of their room, “You will forget me, too.” He returns to the same inn many years later, old, poor and with a depressing venereal disease. He notices the writing on the window and breaks down. He recognizes he was not worthy enough to possess her. Who said seducers were hardhearted? Casanova in his memoirs included the passing glory of the personal life, the gaiety, the generosity and spontaneity of youth, the ups and downs of middle age, and the horrors of old age. One gets to know 18th-century society in Europe from top to bottom.