A charming chronicle of smiles and smiling throughout history.
It has been said that 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 weaves art, poetry, history, and biology into an intriguing portrait of the many meanings of the human smile.
Elegantly illustrating his points with emblematic works of art, from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European paintings to Japanese woodblock prints, Trumble explores the nuances of smiling in a variety of cultures and contexts. But he also asks key questions about the behavioral and psychological aspects of smiling: Is smiling unique to human beings? When and how does human smiling become an act of communication? How does smiling foster our attachments to one another?
Effortlessly mingling erudition, wit, and personal anecdote, Trumble weaves a seamless interdisciplinary tapestry as he brings his expertise as writer, historian, and thinker to bear on the art of the smile.