History

Hygiene of the Soul

The nose is the supremely Shandean organ. Protruding, comic, hubristic, shiny, a zoological bizarrery, as plain as any fact can be yet somehow related to that other organ hidden in men’s breeks (and the nostrils are allegedly in tantric close relation to all sorts of hidden psychic zones in both sexes), it seems first to have butted in on polite society in the novel Doctor Johnson so greatly disapproved of—“Nothing odd will do long,” he growled of Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Johnson’s antipathy to the nose carried over into his conversation: Boswell reports in…

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