In his new book, “Seduction: A History From the Enlightenment to the Present,” Clement Knox takes us through the lives of memorable seducers and shows how the art of seduction has influenced politics and power, literature and social movements.
“One half of the history of seduction is about people worrying about sexual freedom, worrying about things going wrong, about the collision of desire and power, the capacity for abuse and wrongdoing,” Knox says on this week’s podcast. “And the other half is about sexual freedom being this exciting, enjoyable thing, which is very lighthearted and people pursuing their own desires without the interference of the church or the government. The book is structured around that dichotomy.”
Elisabeth Egan, an editor at the Book Review, visits the podcast this week to discuss Amina Cain’s “Indelicacy,” the latest pick for Group Text, a new monthly column for readers and book clubs. The mysterious narrator of “Indelicacy,” an aspiring writer, has a job cleaning at an unnamed museum. When she lands the life she thinks she wants, giving her more time to create art, she has to consider what’s most important — time, inspiration or human connection?
“The book has been described as a ghost story without a ghost,” Egan says. “And it has this fable-like quality. The narrator becomes completely disconnected from the world that she had been a part of. Minus the churn and the thrash of daily life, she’s lonely, she begins to envy the woman who is cleaning her house. I’m making it sound very depressing, it’s actually not depressing and it’s kind of funny. The narrator says the things that you think but would never say.”
Also on this week’s episode, Dwight Garner, Parul Sehgal and Jennifer Szalai talk about their recent articles. Pamela Paul is the host.
Here are the books discussed by The Times’s critics this week:
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