This engagingly written book is nothing less, and nothing more, than a study of the role of the kiss in literature, art, and life from the beginning of the Christian era to the age of the Baroque. (Almost as an afterthought, a brief epilogue takes cognizance of the fact that moderns, too, kiss.) Mr. Perella scrutinizes the osculatory act in all its manifestations, from ""the kiss that transmits the Holy Spirit"" to the kiss that transmits the evil spirit, analyzes it through logos, lyric and legend, as symbol and as reality, and as vice and as virtue. The Kiss, however, is not likely to be condensed in Playboy. It is a work of considerable scholarship and of more than considerable critical value for the student of literature and of art, for the social historian, and for the general reader who likes to kiss. The work's originality Will undoubtedly move the reader in every category to forgive the author his occasional descents into preciosity, and the publisher the lack of illustrations of particular works of art (from the medieval period, particularly) to which the author refers so frequently.