Due to a bit of a cold lately, I couldn t smell the cinnamon sprinkled on my Frothy Coffee, nor the aromas of fresh croissants walking past the patisserie, or the preparation of an evening meal consisting of mussels cooked in garlic butter I love these smells, they are just as important to me as taste, damn this cold , if only I had the nose of Jean Baptiste Grenouille, having a cold wouldn t have made any difference, I could smell the fresh fish markets from a mile away No interest though in hunting virgins for their scent thank God S skind s novel which I didn t even realise has been so popular is Set in 18th century France, and tells the grim story of one Jean Baptiste Grenouille, a physically and emotionally abused orphan who is blessed with a supernatural gift, the great sense of smell His frenzied obsession for odours guides him in a ghastly perverse way to search for the lost origin of his identity A genius of aroma, Grenouille himself lacks a personal odor, signifying an absence of individual identity, but never mind, he can just go about stealing that of others As he discovers his olfactory virtuosity, he becomes increasingly obsessed with inventing new fragrances, particularly his own, which he attempts to create artificially by extracting and blending the corporeal scents of young virginal women he murders His great hope is to create the ideal perfume that will give him the magical essence of identity He despises the rest of mankind, but still is solely driven by a desire for the attention and affection of others, he wants to be top dog, the hell with everybody else At the moment of his crowning glory, however, Grenouille knows that the aura of identity created by his magic perfume is an illusion, and that it has been hate rather than love that drove him to become a genius of perfuming After this epiphany, Grenouille goes barking mad, and surrenders himself to a gory finale.This book was good, I enjoyed it for the most part, but for me, it wasn t great, as viewed by a lot of others The plot is unique and skilfully done, not only in Grenouille s characterization, but also because S skind has done his homework on 18th century France and the science behind perfume He describes Grenouille and his actions with a detached demeanor, thereby heightening the horrific nature of Grenouille s actions by not commenting on that nature, this leads to the problem though of very little coverage in Grenouille s despair as he realises that everything he did was in vain and ultimately unsatisfying to both him and me as the reader And the repetitive prose and unfocused paragraphs had me skimming the odd page here and there I can see why it has had big appeal, because on the surface, the premise is so startlingly different, so kudos there, and he gets a range of emotions from sympathy when a filthy young orphan, to disgust and hatred when he starts his murderous quest.Even tough the chilling horrors of Grenouille s actions are painted in such realistic tones, the novel on the whole never really got under my skin as I thought it would, it s good in places but pretentious in others, and summing up the central character he was just too two dimensional for my liking Not the sort of book I would normally read, so at least it was a break from the norm.Although I am still a long way off wondering around in grandpa slippers, I felt this novel was maybe intended for a younger audience.Forget the fish guts, cow hide, boiled puppy and dead virgins, I will stick to the mint, lavender, bergamot, sandalwood and tonka bean of Jean Paul Gaultier A lightly scented 3 5 In 18th Century France a baby is born who lacks any scent He does, however, have a deep and strong survival urge Although he is treated as a pariah by many for his condition, he possesses a parallel condition, a heightened sensitivity to aroma It is his quest to experience life through smell, and he does so He is also a cold hearted sociopath who seizes opportunities where he can to advance his particular desires It ends badly for him, but that is a good thing.The author This is a very interesting book I was rapt Until I was done it was an unhappy thing to have to put it down unfinished, due to interruptions like work, sleep and eating Thankfully I was able to complete it Perfume is an odd story, perhaps, but also very interesting, providing some payload in depictions of 18th Century Europe and information about aroma in general and perfumery in particular Much recommended but not for all tastes. An Acclaimed Bestseller And International Sensation, Patrick Suskind S Classic Novel Provokes A Terrifying Examination Of What Happens When One Man S Indulgence In His Greatest Passion His Sense Of Smell Leads To MurderIn The Slums Of Eighteenth Century France, The Infant Jean Baptiste Grenouille Is Born With One Sublime Gift An Absolute Sense Of Smell As A Boy, He Lives To Decipher The Odors Of Paris, And Apprentices Himself To A Prominent Perfumer Who Teaches Him The Ancient Art Of Mixing Precious Oils And Herbs But Grenouille S Genius Is Such That He Is Not Satisfied To Stop There, And He Becomes Obsessed With Capturing The Smells Of Objects Such As Brass Doorknobs And Fresh Cut Wood Then One Day He Catches A Hint Of A Scent That Will Drive Him On An Ever Terrifying Quest To Create The Ultimate Perfume The Scent Of A Beautiful Young Virgin Told With Dazzling Narrative Brilliance, Perfume Is A Hauntingly Powerful Tale Of Murder And Sensual Depravity He possessed the power He held it in his hand A power stronger than the power of money or the power of terror or the power of death the invincible power to command the love of mankind There was only one thing that power could not do it could not make him able to smell himselfPerfume is a story about social isolation it s a story about not belonging in the world and the negative effects this can wrought on one s mind It s also a story about obsession, a singular pursuit for perfection regardless of the costs Consequences simply do not matter for Jean He is completely detached from reality he lives in his own world of scent, invisible to all others Murder means nothing to him because he does not fully understand what he is murdering He has no feelings He cannot comprehend what it is to snuff out a life because he is not truly alive himself He is dead inside and numb to all else in his differentnessHe realized that all his life he had been a nobody to everyone What he now felt was the fear of his own oblivion It was as though he did not exist He had withdrawn solely for his own personal pleasure, only to be near to himself No longer distracted by anything external, he basked in his own existence and found it splendid As such befalls misery for all those that meet him His talent is remarkable and his motivation when roused is unstoppable His singular pursuit for his goal is uncompromising and he will stop at nothing to achieve the most perfect of scents The secret ingredient he has been looking for comes his way and he cannot rest until he has it Innocence is a mighty hard thing to harvest, though it is the missing piece he has been looking for it will give his perfume the power to inspire love it will be irresistible.However, as the tale of Icarus taught us, those who fly too high will burn As such the ending of this is simply perfection The moment captures the heart of the book in one beautifully horrific frenzy of emotions and desire The delivery is masterful I knew it was coming I d seen the film many years previously though I don t think the film could every quite capture the intensity and euphoric nature of the situation The only reason I have not given this five stars is because I found it rambled a little in places I think the story could have been cut back and made tighter and effective, though I loved the prose and the plot Jean makes for an interesting character study for sure. I had a heck of a time thinking who I d recommend this to It won a Fantasy award, yet I can t call it Fantasy It s set in a bygone period, but it doesn t play with history, so it s not Historical Fiction It s about a murder, yet it s not terrifying like Horror, nor is it a mystery It s just the story of a peculiar boy who became a dangerous and most interesting man He was born without an odor, you see, and lacking that part of identity, became obsessed with smell That identity crisis triggers philosophical, religious and morbid chords in the book, yet none dominate If anything, a dark curiosity dominates it The book has a slightly menacing monotone about it that is almost hypnotic, and lays a surreal lens over the brilliant and crisp descriptions Suskind provides for his world It s an angry, dangerous little book that baffled literary critics and inspired Nirvana Read it and label it for yourself. 4 , Aquamarine , 25 2014 29 2014 I want my last 2 weeks back I dove into this book expecting a hell of a lot than I dragged out of it From the very beginning I did not like the author s writing style and should have known then that this book just wouldn t be for me.This book is set in the mid 1700 s France and centers around a horrid man who has no redeeming qualities other than the fact that he has likely the most perfect sense of smell in the history of mankind But he uses this skill for selfish and evil purposes and we get to come along for the story of his life if you could call it that.The premise of the story seemed interesting enough, and of course the title tells us that there is going to be murder so that always makes for interesting reading But I just found it to be extremely boring and tiresome.The author obviously did his research relating to all things perfume the methods involved in it s creation both chemically and artistically and the importance of it s purpose in that point in history But he goes overboard with list after exhaustive list of ingredients or steps within a process or varieties to be found He can t help but describe every minute detail, not just of perfume, but of the landscape or the people I love descriptive writing I truly do but I do also like to have an exciting plot to keep me involved By the time he finished describing a scene I forgot why we were there.This book lulled me to sleep and caused me to welcome distractions rather than turning the page so it took me a lot longer than a book of this length normally would I know that it is loved by many and was recommended to me by several whose opinions I value But this one just didn t cut it Even when the action picked up in the last 50 pages or so, it became extremely bizarre and made me wonder what the heck the point was exactly. This book was different and brilliant The story of an orphaned boy born without a scent, but with an incredibly refined sense of smell, the book drags a bit in parts, but the ends justify the means, in ways than one.All things considered, the book is a valentine to the beauty, elegance, and power of smell A truly underrated sense, Suskind reminds the reader of just how powerful an effect our sense of smell can have Although Jean Baptiste Grenouille one of the great names in contemporary fiction s amazing sense of smell seems the sort of thing that is unquantifiable in most any medium, Suskind makes it work perfectly His vivid descriptions almost evoke the smells he is describing into reality, and his characterization of Grenouille is nothing short of perfect.Grenouille is, of course, an abhorrent, vicious, loathsome character, and Suskind takes great pains to point this out literally at various intervals throughout the story However, despite his actions and the way he is described, Suskind cleverly says one thing and shows another, presenting Grenouille as the unquestioned hero of the story, allowing him to come across as, at the very least, sympathetic if not pitiable , and at most, a man whose single minded drives and desires leads to the reader outright rooting for him to succeed in his horrific acts.As the subtitle of the book is The Story of a Murderer , I don t think it gives anything away to say that the book climaxes in the brutal murders of 25 women that Grenouille uses to create the most perfect smelling perfume the world has ever known Despite all the difficulties Grenouille encounters, all the opposition and roadblocks and it s indisputably true that Grenouille was dealt a bad hand in life , he still takes his lumps admirably and never wavers from his pursuit of his dream, which, at its heart, is something I think everyone aspires to be able to do Further, when Grenouille finally does achieve his dream, he is heartbroken to discover that, after everything, it was not what he d envisioned Sadly, I think that is something people can relate to as well And so it is that the story of a murderer ends up as something everyone can relate to.One of the ways Suskind is able to so perfectly pull this off is to disassociate Grenouille from these abhorrent acts Throughout the story, we see only Grenouille striving and working hard to achieve his goal Then, at the cusp of putting it into motion, the story suddenly changes perspective from the actions of Grenouille to their aftermath and the perspective of the local townspeople It s a jarring and effective method that allows the reader to still root for Grenouille, as they still are very much aware that Grenouille is responsible for these horrific actions, but disassociates him from the brutality of them by only speaking of them in an offhand manner i.e the chaos they create, rather than the actual detailed acts themselves.All that said, the end of the book is insane, but wonderfully so It s completely out of left field and it s almost hard to accept that what is happening is real and not some sort of dream which it isn t The reader is left waiting for the moment when Grenouille opens his eyes and we re told what really happened, but it never comes Compared to the climax, the end of the story almost makes perfect sense, when in any other story it would be seen as equally insane, if not so But don t let it detract you from reading the book It s true, you ll either love it or hate it, but no matter what you ll be unable to say it wasn t worthwhile. I was predisposed to love this book no matter what I love perfumes The fact that this book had blood and murder was just a bonus.For me, perfumes and scents are a visceral thing I love perfume I have never been a visual person, my memories are composed of layers of scent.I remember as a child, growing up in Vietnam, visiting my elderly neighbor s house and having him give me a cup of black tea infused with jasmine Those jasmines would put the pitiful little star jasmines to shame They were huge, each petal as wide as a fingernail White, waxen, and filled with the most beautiful, deep, richly floral scent that even as a 5 year old I could feel was seductive without ever knowing the meaning or the existence of the word.I remember sleeping with the window open, as the night air was filled with the scents of the flowering trees that grew outside my grandparents house I remember the green, earthy smell of the rice paddies where I grew up I remember the bitter, smoky smell of the pits so environmentally destructive, but whatever that my neighbors dug in which they burned wood slowly for months to make a small supply of coal Not all the smells were pleasant, of course, because hello, I did grow up on a farm, but my memories are built upon scent.My love of perfume grew when I was a teen I learned about perfumes, and how they were made I learned about how flowers were distilled for their scents, an enormous quantity of raw ingredients required for a few precious drops of essential oils I learned about making aromatic compounds in an organic chemistry lab, and that my beloved scent of jasmine and tuberose smelled as beautifully seductive and sexual as it did because it contained a compound called indoles, which smells like poop Who knew I learned that each perfume as a top note, which quickly dissipates, the middle notes, which remains, the base notes, which lingers onto your skin like the touch of a long gone lover I learned that musk can smell rank, like sweaty, animalistic sex on top of a slice of Muenster cheese, or it can smell like the warmth of a mother s embrace.There are certain scents I will never be able to wear again, because one I wore for months, while longing after a guy I thought I could never have Another I can t smell without wincing, because it reminds me of heartbreak and tears, despite the fact that it came in a rose colored bottle and smelled like green tea and lemons.This book is a perfume lover s dream come true The entire book could have had no mystery at all, and I would still read it and revel in the descriptions alone.The Summary Jean Baptiste Grenouille was a bastard, born in 1738 to a syphilitic, consumptive woman working in a stinking fish stall as a gutter After delivering the unfortunate child, she was promptly arrested for abandoning said child, and hanged.A most auspicious beginning.Even in the beginning, his wet nurse paid for by the state noticed that something was wrong with GrenouilleI don t mean what s in the diaper His soil smells, that s true enough But it s the bastard himself, he doesn t smellBabies have a smell, some stink, but underneath it, there s always a warm, cuddly smell that even a cold, heartless, child hating woman such as I can appreciate Grenouille has no scent.People notice His fellow children notice They could not stand the nonsmell of him They were afraid of him. As a teen, he sought work at a tannery in Paris Paris is a stinking pit of hell To Grenouilleit is heaven, with its amalgamation of scents It was a mixture of human and animal smells, of water and stone and ashes and leather, of soap and fresh baked bread and eggs boiled in vinegar, of noodles and smoothly polished brass, of sage and ale and tears, of grease and soggy straw and dry straw Thousands upon thousands of odors formed an invisible gruel that filled the street ravines, only seldom evaporating above the rooftops and never from the ground below. Grenouille knew he was not normal, but his obsession for the pursuit of a scent never really gained traction until he committed his first murder, for love of a virgin s scent the sweat of her armpits, the oil in her hair, the fishy odor of her genitals, and smelled it all with the greatest pleasure Her sweat smelled as fresh as the sea breeze, the tallow of her hair as sweet as nut oil, her genitals were as fragrant as the bouquet of water lilies, her skin as apricot blossoms and the harmony of all these components yielded a perfume so rich, so balanced, so magical, that every perfume that Grenouille had smelled until now, every edifice of odors that he had so playfully created within himself, seemed at once to be utterly meaningless. The scent of a living human being that he must commit to memory, that he must capture, in the way a flower collector dries a specimen within parchment, in the way an insect lover kills and pins to a page the very thing he loves When she was dead he laid her on the ground among the plum pits, tore off her dress, and the stream of scent became a flood that inundated him with its fragrance He thrust his face to her skin and swept his flared nostrils across her, from belly to breast, to neck, over her face and hair, and back to her belly, down to her genitals, to her thighs and white legs He smelled her over from head to toe, he gathered up the last fragments of her scent under her chin, in her navel, and in the wrinkles inside her elbow. His is an obsessive quest that will lead him to murder again, and again, and again, in this desperate search Grenouille knew for certain that unless he possessed this scent, his life would have no meaning. This is a book in which the title is completely self explanatory It is about a murderer, and his obsessive quest for a perfect perfume It s something I understand, in my constant search for the Holy Grail of fragrances.But I have yet to succumb to the urge to murder Because sometimes you just have to read about an 17th century perfumer who may or may not be the Anti Christ and goes on a killing spree, before starting aa giant omnisexual fuckfest and being voluntarily cannabilized Ah literature That s why I read you, the class The class.
From 1968 1974 he studied medieval and modern history in Munich and Aix en Provence In the 80s he worked as a screenwriter, for Kir Royal and Monaco Franze among others After spending the 1970s writing what he has characterized as short unpublished prose pieces and longer un produced screenplays , Patrick S skind was catapulted to fame in the 1980s by the monodrama Der Kontrabass The Double B
- 263 pages
- Das Parfum. Die Geschichte eines Mörders
- Patrick Süskind
- 18 August 2017 Patrick Süskind