A Brief History of the Smile

Angus Trumble


A Brief History of the Smile

A Brief History of the Smile

  • Title: A Brief History of the Smile
  • Author: Angus Trumble
  • ISBN: 9780465087792
  • Page: 450
  • Format: Paperback



Every smile is the product of physical processes common to all humans But since the dawn of civilization, the upward movement of the muscles of the face has carried a bewildering range of meanings Supreme enlightenment is reflected in the holy smile of the Buddha, yet the Victorians thought of open mouthed smiling as obscene, and nineteenth century English and American sEvery smile is the product of physical processes common to all humans But since the dawn of civilization, the upward movement of the muscles of the face has carried a bewildering range of meanings Supreme enlightenment is reflected in the holy smile of the Buddha, yet the Victorians thought of open mouthed smiling as obscene, and nineteenth century English and American slang equated smiling with drinking whisky.In A Brief History of the Smile, Angus Trumble deftly combines art, poetry, history, and biology into an intriguing portrait of the many nuances of the smile Elegantly illustrating his points with emblematic works of art, from eighteenth and nineteenth century European paintings to Japanese woodblock prints, Trumble explores the meanings of smiling in a variety of cultures and contexts Effortlessly mingling erudition, wit, and personal anecdote, Trumble weaves a seamless interdisciplinary tapestry, bringing his expertise as a writer, historian, and thinker to bear on the art of smiling in this warm and perceptive work.


Recent Comments "A Brief History of the Smile"

As one who feels there is a great value in sharing smiles I thought this would be an interesting read. While the information was interesting this read far more like a historical text than an I expected. Not something I would move to the top of my to read list.

If you're on the fence about this one, I'd skip it. Nothing earth-shattering here. For me, there was a little too much emphasis on art history. Art is great and art history is interesting, but I was under the impression I'd be reading a book about the history of the SMILE, not some tunnel-vision description of paintings. This guy is really focused on Western European art, and to a few very specific countries at that. Ancient Greece is cool, but it's not the only place that existed--in fact (and [...]

This book was a bit of a surprise. While I began with few assumptions about the book, after reading the introduction, I think I expected something a little bit more along the art historical line. Despite the very art historical introduction, the book ended up delving into all kinds of random areas of interest. While the book is definitely a valuable source of random knowledge vaguely pertaining to smiling, there were times when I got the feeling the author wasn't quite the expert he was portrayi [...]

I really wasn't interested to know that the cranial nerve number 7 is the one responsible for the smiling muscles. Other than that, there were some some fun facts quite interesting: about Orlan, Mona Lisa, Italian renaissance paintings, Dutch paintings of the xvith century and hen groping boys (yes, really, the most exciting part of the book, I swear).Unfortunately everything lacked structure and it seemed presented in a somewhat chaotic mess. The author goes from art to dentists to religion to [...]

I really wasn't interested to know that the cranial nerve number 7 is the one responsible for the smiling muscles. Other than that, there were some some fun facts quite interesting: about Orlan, Mona Lisa, Italian renaissance paintings, Dutch paintings of the xvith century and hen groping boys (yes, really, the most exciting part of the book, I swear).Unfortunately everything lacked structure and it seemed presented in a somewhat chaotic mess. The author goes from art to dentists to religion to [...]

While the chapters had some interesting points, their contents didn't always match the title - for example the conclusion-happiness- was about the smiles they create on corpses? The majority of examples of smiles are taken from art, not behavioural examples or biology etc. as suggested by the blurb. Overall the book doesn't coincide with the title, nor am I convinced the author knows what he is talking about, being an art historian not a scientist. I would recommend this book for general interes [...]

This is the kind of book that leads you to make mental notes to find a biography of Maurice Bowra or reread Through the Looking Glass. There are clues scattered throughout visual arts, literature, social history, and even language that can help us understand the changing message of the smile. While the bookuld certainly be edited to improve the organization, it's readability and quantity of information and analysis is a lot of fun.

Some interesting history but overall conjecture and speculation based on a lot of looking at portraits (as far as I can tell). Some loose tying in of the evolution of languages to how smiles/laughter/expression was immortalized in art but it seems like a stretch to present the vast speculation as truth.

A rather more art-intensive than expected but informative and well-written review of what smiling has meant through various ages, with digressions into the musculature of smiling, a dash of the psychological research into smiles (babies--are they manipulative little critters or just happy?), and a cavalcade of amusing sidelights on English/European culture. A quick & easy read.

Fascinating, love the art history tie ins. May not have been in the mood to read this type of book or the fact I never got a good interrupted stretch to read. It never absorbed me fully. I would much rather have attended a lecture on the topic then read the book. I may try something else by this author but it is highly unlikely.

Bleh. One of the interdisciplinary books that are so popular today. This one was full of fancy scientific terms and latin vocabulary. It read like a poem that I read for rhythm and enjoyment, rather than a novel I can remember anything substantive out of. I've only read the first two pages of "Crying: A Natural and Cultural History of Tears" and it's already a bigger hit than "Smile."

A very thorough history of the smile with an emphasis on its representation in visual art. The chapter on lewdness was my favorite because it features 17th Century naughty Dutch memes and the great Celtic goddess the sheela.

That was fun; would have enjoyed more illustrations.

7/14/13 - I have to put this one back on the shelf. I got caught up in some other books and haven't looked at it in over 3 weeks.

Fun read; well researched and contrary to the views of Mary Beard, who cited it in her book on Roman Humor


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    Posted by:Angus Trumble
    Published :2018-08-27T16:18:41+00:00