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Sure to be popular in the hipper precincts of Brooklyn (to say nothing of the Pacific Northwest), this eccentric Victorian volume makes a strong case for the universal wearing of beards. Reminding us that since ancient times the beard has been an essential symbol of manly distinction, Thomas S. Gowing (whom we trust had a spectacular beard) presents a moral case for eschewing the bitter bite of the razor. He contrasts the vigor and daring of the bearded—say, lumberjacks and Lincoln—with the undeniable effeminacy of the shaven. Manliness is found in the follicles, and the modern man should not forget that “ladies, by their very nature, like everything manly,” and cannot fail to be charmed by a fine “flow of curling comeliness.” Even old men can hold on to their vitality via their beards: “The Beard keeps gradually covering, varying and beautifying, and imparts new graces even to decay, by highlighting all that is still pleasing, veiling all that is repulsive.” A truly strange polemic, The Philosophy of Beards is as charming as it is bizarre, the perfect gift for the manly man in your life.
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