Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity

Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity

by Virginia Smith
     
 

ISBN-10: 0199532087

ISBN-13: 9780199532087

Pub. Date: 08/15/2008

Publisher: Oxford University Press

From pre-historic grooming rituals to New Age medicine, from ascetics to cosmetics, Clean looks at how different cultures have interpreted and striven for personal cleanliness and shows how, throughout history, this striving for purity has brought immense social benefits as well as great tragedies. Looking at human history through the lens of public baths,

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Overview

From pre-historic grooming rituals to New Age medicine, from ascetics to cosmetics, Clean looks at how different cultures have interpreted and striven for personal cleanliness and shows how, throughout history, this striving for purity has brought immense social benefits as well as great tragedies. Looking at human history through the lens of public baths, lavatories, laundry, teeth cleaning, cosmetics, food storage and panty liners, Virginia Smith here combines archeology, psychology, biology, and other fields to illuminate our modern obsession cleanliness. She peppers her entertaining account with engaging and often surprising details. The book reveals, for instance, that even at the earliest stages of human development, our bodies produced pleasure-giving chemical opiates when things smelled or felt clean, inducing us to bathe or at least remove dirty clothes. She describes how, during the Bronze Age, an emerging hierarchy of wealthy elites turned their love of grooming into an explosion of the cosmetic and luxury goods industry, greatly affecting the culture and economy of Eurasia and leading to advances in chemistry and medicine. Likewise, in Greece and Rome, citizens focused much of their leisure time on perfecting, bathing, or just writing about the model athletic body. Even today, our enlightened medical knowledge could not stop an onslaught of health remedies, treatments, spas, and New Age nature cures—all in the pursuit of purity. This engrossing and highly original work will introduce you to the customs and ideas of a myriad of cultures across centuries of human history, providing a marvelous new perspective on the importance of cleanliness to human civilization.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199532087
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
08/15/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations     xi
Introduction     1
Bio-physicality     8
The Cosmetic Toilette     45
Greek Hygiene     74
Roman Baths     102
Asceticism     126
Medieval Morals     144
Protestant Regimens     185
Civil Cleanliness     224
Health Crusaders     264
The Body Beautiful     307
Notes     353
Select Bibliography     433
Acknowledgements of Sources     437
Index     439

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