Thursday, January 19, 2012

History of unsmiling

There’s a popular Russian saying, “Laughter without a reason is a sign of folly”. If you ask a Russian man why he is so gloomy, he’d answer with a likewise gloomy question, “What’s to be happy about?”

The poster with the unsmiling woman above suggests that the open-minded {emancipated, progressive, permissive} woman will be the one to build socialism.

Read more about the famous Russian unwillingness to smile HERE.


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  1. I was told that Russians don't smile in public with strangers, but once you're friends and go into a home it's completely different. Warmth and friendship in private, severity in public. (This is one thing I would have a hard time fitting in with--I am a ridiculously smiley person, and any sensible Russian would think me full of folly.)

  2. What's the english word for Култов ;)

  3. Jean:
    Absolutely! Russians and all Eastern Europeans are very warm, welcoming people. I think that's why the "unsmiling" bit is so strange.

    The poster, right?!

  4. Yes, the poster ;) Is it a real communist poster? Or a contemporary caricature of the past?

  5. It is an original. It's from 1926, the artist is Adolf Strakhov.

  6. I must be one of those super Americanized Russians because I smile.

  7. I didn't know about that, but I have developed this theory about smiling. See, it's like saying "I love you". If I smile as less as I can, whenever I will, it will be the manifestation of an inner joy I can't contain and not being a phony gesture.

    I call this the "Quebec City smile" . Many girls I knew in Quebec City used to smile like that, as a presentation gesture. It's just an exposition of teeth. Real people smile with their eyes.