What I really wanted for Christmas
And have been wanting for years, is something like an atlas of physiognomy. I want to be able to judge, definitively, whether the character I have in my mind’s eye really has hooded eyes, or not. What, exactly, is a Roman nose or a Grecian brow and if I say a woman has the square lower lip of a Pre-Raphaelite model, does anybody actually know what I mean or does it just go straight over everybody’s head.
So maybe I am strange – maybe everybody else has a much clearer sense of what these terms actually mean, or maybe nobody cares, but it has always really troubled me that while I can identify a retrousse nose without the faintest difficulty, I can’t possess the same absolute certainty about the squareness of a square chin or the scale that a forehead must possess to be considered broad.
Perhaps it only matters if you’re writing historical fiction (that’s a subtle clue as to what’s absorbing my hours right now) where the convention of describing characters is more developed than it contemporary literary fiction where it seems the convention is much more to describe sexual characteristics or grotesqueries of feature. Hmmm … so has anybody ever seen or heard of that kind of reference book or should I be getting myself some kind of therapy for over-literary exactitude?