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Table of contents
PREFACE
TOUCH-1
TOUCH-2
TOUCH-3 (begin)
TOUCH-3 (end)
TOUCH-4 (begin)
TOUCH-4 (end)
SMELL-1
SMELL-2
SMELL-3.1
SMELL-3.2
SMELL-3.3
SMELL-3.4
SMELL-3.5
SMELL-4 (begin)
SMELL-4 (end)
SMELL-5
HEARING-1
HEARING-2
HEARING-3
VISION-1.1
VISION-1.2
VISION-1.3
VISION-2.1
VISION-2.2
VISION-2.3
VISION-2.4
VISION-3
VISION-4
VISION-5
APPENDIX A
APPENDIX B HISTORY-1
APPENDIX B HISTORY-2.1
APPENDIX B HISTORY-2.2
APPENDIX B HISTORY-2.3
APPENDIX B HISTORY-3.1
APPENDIX B HISTORY-3.2
INDEX OF AUTHORS

 

The poets within recent times have frequently referred to odors, 

personal and other, but the novelists have more rarely done so. 

Zola and Huysmans, the two novelists who have most elaborately 

and insistently developed the olfactory side of life, have dwelt 

more on odors that are repulsive than on those that are 

agreeable. It is therefore of interest to note that in a few 

remarkable novels of recent times the attractiveness of personal 

odor has been emphasized. This is notably so in Tolstoy's _War 

and Peace_, in which Count Peter suddenly resolves to marry 

Princess Helena after inhaling her odor at a ball. In 

d'Annunzio's _Trionfo della Morte_ the seductive and consoling 

odor of the beloved woman's skin is described in several 

passages; thus, when Giorgio kissed Ippolita's arms and 

shoulders, we are told, "he perceived the sharp and yet delicate 

perfume of her, the perfume of the skin that in the hour of joy 

became intoxicating as that of the tuberose, and a terrible lash 

to desire." 

 

When we are dealing with the sexual significance of personal odors in man 

there is at the outset an important difference to be noticed in comparison 

with the lower mammals. Not only is the significance of odor altogether 

very much less, but the focus of olfactory attractiveness has been 

displaced. The centre of olfactory attractiveness is not, as usually among 

animals, in the sexual region, but is transferred to the upper part of the 

body. In this respect the sexual olfactory allurement in man resembles 

what we find in the sphere of vision, for neither the sexual organs of man 

nor of woman are usually beautiful in the eyes of the opposite sex, and 

their exhibition is not among us regarded as a necessary stage in 

courtship. The odor of the body, like its beauty, in so far as it can be 

regarded as a possible sexual allurement, has in the course of development 

been transferred to the upper parts. The careful concealment of the sexual 

region has doubtless favored this transfer. It has thus happened that when 

personal odor acts as a sexual allurement it is the armpit, in any case 

normally the chief focus of odor in the body, which mainly comes into 

play, together with the skin and the hair. 

 

Aubert, of Lyons, noted that during menstruation the odor of the 

armpits may become more powerful, and describes it as being at 

this time an aromatic odor of acidulous or chloroform character. 

Galopin remarks that, while some women's armpits smell of sheep 

in rut, others, when exposed to the air, have a fragrance of 

ambergris or violet. Dark persons (according to Gould and Pyle) 

are said sometimes to exhale a prussic acid odor, and blondes 

more frequently musk; Galopin associates the ambergris odor more 

especially with blondes. 

 

While some European poets have faintly indicated the woman's 

armpit as a centre of sexual attraction, it is among Eastern 


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