The truth of a man lies in his nose.
It's amazing what a simple scent can conjure: childhood memories, someone who has passed out of our lives, a change in season, a holiday. Since ancient times, humans have used the nose to soothe fears, choose leaders, alter consciousness, and lure mates. We have certain smells that remind us of different people and places that have touched us. But the historical significances of the nose -- its complex biology and social meaning -- are rarely considered. The Nose is the first book to explore its subject through multiple, overlapping social lenses: anthropology and art, science and literature, sickness and health, sex and fertility, appearance and popular culture, mythology and memory.
The Nose takes readers on a whirlwind tour across the spectrum of human history, culture, and emotion. From hieroglyphics to modern journals, the nose has been both an enduring mystery and obsession, as fascinating to Pliny as it was to Picasso. Positioning the nose as the "anchor of our features" as well as the principle gateway to life, Gabrielle Glaser charts the shifting significances of the nose across different geographies, ethnicities, and time periods. She profiles the extraordinary people she encountered while researching her story -- the rabbi who contemplates the nose on sacred Jewish texts; the Maryland woman whose sudden loss of her sense of smell plunges her into depression; a passionate physician at the Mayo clinic with a contoversial theory about chronic sinus disease; and an African-American plastic surgeon who created new categories of "nose jobs" based on black features worldwide. For anyone who has pondered the nose, been plagued with allergies, or agonized about its size, The Nose is a learned and lively examination of our most primal organ.