Diary of a Seducer – definitely an eye catching title. It suggests eroticism, persecution, and satisfaction. I had never heard of the book nor of the author, the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard but I was largely captured by the title and the back cover information – tips on how to successfully to seduce a woman, which are even applicable to contemporary situations. Hm, in the light of my recent (largely unsuccessful) experience with a similar character I was convinced it would be useful to read this and elaborate on it. I was not wrong.
People either love or hate Johannes, the seducer in the story. But they can never be indifferent to him, to his wits, to his imagination, and most importantly to his great knowledge of the human soul and how to manipulate it effectively. Throughout reading at times I almost felt the physical urge to find this Johannes and smash him in the face as hard as I can. And then I stopped to think about it – the woman was as guilty as the man for letting herself fall into his trap. Of course, his methods were extremely intelligent and backed up by a serious amount of experience. And unfortunately for all women that will be reading this, Cordelia fell in the trap exactly as her seducer had predicted.
Johannes is the Kierkegaard’s version of Don Juan or Casanova. He is a charming, intelligent, and interesting man, who is obsessed with women. Johannes loves their individuality, their innocence, their tenderness. He regards each woman as a different person and realizes that every one of them requires a different approach towards seduction. Because this is what Johannes does – he seduces women and when they are desperately in love, he abandons them. Because they have become predictable, because there is nothing interesting anymore, because the hung is over. Yes, Johannes finds some perverse satisfaction in the action of hunt. He studies every girl, he prepares a strategy, and he carefully executes it. You have no other choice to admire him for the persistence and patience with which he deals with every project in front of him. Women for Johannes are indeed projects, which are completed at the moment they are in love.
Diary of a Seducer presents just one such story (although the author hints there are many more) with the young and naive Cordelia, who falls in love with Johannes only to see herself abandoned and hurt afterwards. Still, we feel admiration for the protagonist because he always speaks extremely fondly of women, he is gentle, considerate, and civilized. The diary indeed can be read as a modern guide for any man who wants to become a seducer, and a very successful one for that matter. First throw the bait at the woman. Appear passionately in love, be obsessive, attentive, anticipate her needs, and then meet them. When you feel she has caught the rod, slowly pull back. Just like a fish, she will follow. And she is yours. End of story. Seems simple but it actually requires a lot of patience and knowledge about the complex creature, who says “Yes” and means “No” and vice versa.
Who is Soren Kierkegaard and how come he knows so much about seduction. The author is a Danish philosopher, theologian, and religious author. Most of his philosophical work deals with how an individual lives and acts as a “single creature”, highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. The personage of Johannes the Seducer illustrates “interesting” as the greatest human virtue. Until women are conquered, they are interesting. They are a new territory to be explored and then subordinated. After that they become boring and predictable. And hedonism is over. Johannes uses irony, artifice, caprice, imagination and arbitrariness to engineer poetically satisfying possibilities; he is not so much interested in the act of seduction as in willfully creating its interesting possibility. The diary is partly based on the author’s personal experiences. He was deeply in love and to be married to Regine, when he began having second thoughts about marriage and commitment. Later, he broke over the engagement.
Diary of a Seducer is a controversial novel, which is at times difficult to read and understand due to the highly philosophical voice of the author. Still, it offers some very good (and relevant) tips on successful seduction. It indeed shows what seducers do right and what the seduced do wrong. However, not every woman can be seduced. Johannes understands this and carefully picks up his victims. The quote I liked the most (I paraphrase here) sounded something like: “You can learn how to cheat a woman only by the woman itself”. Straight to the point and one more poisonous arrow in my heart.