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The Finger: A Handbook

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  16 ratings  ·  7 reviews

In this collision between art and science, history and pop culture, the acclaimed art historian Angus Trumble examines the finger from every possible angle. His inquiries into its representation in art take us from Buddhist statues in Kyoto to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, from cave art to
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2010)
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Lillian Carl
A scientific and artistic study of, well, the finger. I just love this sort of quirky book, one which, like so many others, I saved from the remainder table. It's written with great dash and style and sense of rhythm, with way too many delightful passages to quote here. I'll mention one:

"While the metacarpals [bones in the hand] are the anatomical basement story of the fingers, and the first of them is considerably more than that---in so many ways the Napoleon of the family, far shorter, more v
Margaret Sankey
Continuing to prove my theory that there is a social history of everything: The Social History of Hands and Fingers, with forays into babies' pointing and language acquisition, Ice Age cave painting outlines of hands with fingers missing (frostbite? voluntary mutilation?), base-10 numbering systems, the significance and familial resemblance of the hands in Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel (God's hands are a workman's, Adam's the soft untested ones), gloves in 19th century portraiture, emigration a ...more
What a surprising and entertaining little volume this turned out to be. This is the most complete survey of a body part that I could possibly imagine. Four fingers and an opposing thumb have not only impacted our species but also helped create all of our individual cultures. We learn in detail how they work and how we use them to gesture, communicate, create art and music and make love and war. Writing, sport, crime and memory as well as the importance of scratching are all disclosed and yes, he ...more
I thought this book would explore the historical uses of the finger/hand in art, since it is written by an art historian. And while it does do this, the art becomes tangential to a thorough - and I mean thorough! - exploration of everything hand-oriented, from the musculature to why we point with the index finger to gloves to painted fingernails....and more! If that sounds interesting, this book is for you.
Claire Webber
Delightfully discursive - I would love to sit next to Trumble at a dinner party. His rambling discourse is highly researched and pleasant, but there is little narrative thread tying his essays together (even within the individual essay itself). But his wit and charm make up for it - perhaps his panache is enough to tie it together?
Debora Felton
This is a delectable bit of writing exploring the uses and usefulness of our hands. The author colorfully expounds upon the role our hands play in the masterwork of defining us as human. Lovely and lively! Also, a quick read.
If you like these kinds of books, you will like this one. But it's not one of the better ones in the genre.
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