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The Human Face Hardcover – 1 Mar 2001

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Hardcover, 1 Mar 2001
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (1 Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563551887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563551881
  • Product Dimensions: 27.9 x 25.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 637,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The coffee-table accompaniment to the BBC television series, The Human Face considers the notion that beauty is indeed only skin-deep, and explores whether we should judge a book by its cover. Supposing we do, it justifies the conceit through a wealth of magnificent colour plates and an explanatory text by John Cleese, who presented the series, and psychologist Brian Bates. If appearance and beauty are a universal concern, our curiosity is nothing compared to psychologists, who produce an endless stream of tests, polls and inquiries into beauty. But this nothing new, in fact, and the Greeks had the answer, and words, for it. The Golden Mean divided the face into three equal sections, with the perfect face conforming to the ratio 1:1.618, where the ratio between the smaller parts to the larger was the same as between the larger parts and the entire face. Astonishing, perhaps, but these almost divine dimensions, used for their statues, persist as models of timeless beauty. The book divides into six sections. Origins follows the oft-quoted paradigm of the span of human existence expressed within the timescale of a single day, with Homo sapiens' after-the-pub late appearance. Identity is discussed in terms of broad genetic and gender terms, while expressions, aka Jim Carrey Studies, looks at developmental, physiological and cultural differences. It occasionally reads like a school biology text, graded to accommodate all-comers, but makes simple points succinctly. Beauty is symmetry, using scientific studies to quantify the instinctual. Ultimately it truly is in the eye of the beholder, though rarely when turned on itself, which is where vanity picks up its cue, looking out of the corner of its eyes at cosmetics, ageing, disfigurement and Madonna. Madonna, of course, also fits into the final chapter on fame, which examines the effect of photography and cinema in transmitting repetitive human images globally. The jazz trumpeter Chet Baker was once asked, in his later years, how his face had gotten so lined. "Laughter lines", he answered. "But, Chet", came the reply, "Nothing's that funny". Ultimately, The Human Face works best as a visual smorgasbord, and its lavish, eye-catching photographs. And in holding our attention, it proves the next best thing to a mirror. --David Vincent

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Mar. 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was looking for a information regarding the judgements people make when they see others. I am writing a thesis on this very subject at the moment and this book is absolutly superb. Thankyou Brian and John!!!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Sept. 2001
Format: Hardcover
I disagree with some of the reviews here that said this book needed more words. I found it to be immensely readable and hard to put down. The pictures really add a lot of interest and stop it feeling like a textbook even though the words are very thought-provoking and interesting. I like all of John Cleese's books that I've read so far and this one's a cracker too!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Mar. 2001
Format: Hardcover
like the previous reviewer, and indeed previous books by Cleese, the content is brilliant. The design of the book however allows far too much space to be taken up by over enlarged pictures, full page photographs, and other graphic design devices, that serve only to pad out the bulk, and add little to the thesis. I suggest that this bulk could be halved by good design, with no loss at all to the content or value of the book. Alternatively it would have been nice to have had more text, and a bit more depth, but that does seem to go against the trend in TV tie in books, in general, and this publisher in particular.
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