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 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.