Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
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From Library Journal
Upon its publication last year in Germany Susskind's first novel Perfume immediately became an international best seller. Set in 18th-century France, Perfume relates the fascinating and horrifying tale of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a person as gifted as he was abominable. Born without a smell of his own but endowed with an extraordinary sense of smell, Grenouille becomes obsessed with procuring the perfect scent that will make him fully human. With brilliant narrative skill Susskind exposes the dark underside of the society through which Grenouille moves and explores the disquieting inner universe of this singularly possessed man. The translation is superb. Essential for literature collections. Ulrike S. Rettig, German Dept., Wellesley Coll., Wellesley, Mass.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
?A fable of criminal genius?. Remarkable."?The New York Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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The first part of the book establishes that he was born to a woman who was hung from a gibbet for having left him to die. It turns out that Jean-Baptiste is an unusual baby. He gives people the willies, because, unlike most babies, Jean-Baptiste has no scent.
Over time, Jean-Baptiste develops into a boy with a secret gift. His olfactory sense is developed to a degree unheard of in humans. He delights in parsing the odors around him. Ugly, friendless, and a loner, he eventually ventures into the city of Paris, a malodorous and pungent cornucopia of smells. Believe me, there is plenty to sniff out in eighteenth century Paris! Jean-Baptiste savors each whiff, and the book conveys these olfactory delights with meticulous, descriptive precision.
His bleak existence is transformed, however, when he one day captures a heady scent of such exquisite beauty that he finds himself obsessed with it. Determined to have that scent at all costs, he eventually sniffs it out. It turns out to be the scent of a young virgin on the cusp of flowering into a woman. It is a scent that he must possess. What he does to do so will surely chill the reader.
Jean-Baptiste eventually maneuvers to get himself apprenticed to a perfumer, so that he can have the opportunity to learn the trade and create scents. He leads a bleak existence, subsisting as little more than a slave to the perfumer for whom he works.Read more ›
The story begins with the birth of Jean Baptiste-Grenouille. He is left to die by his mother as she delivers him in her stall at the farmer's market. Grenouille has to be one of the strangest characters ever created. He is repulsive to all his caretakers and is likened by the author to a tick. Grenouille is born with a phenomonal sense of smell but, alas, has no smell of his own.
The reader follows Grenouille through his life and his search for the perfect smell that will make him more human, make him loved and ultimately accepted. Here the plot twists and turns into the most unlikely and downright strange scenarios I have ever read, concluding with what one can only describe as the most unbelieveable ending of all time.
The writing is superb and it is the only reason I continued to read such a convoluted tale. The historical detail and recreation of eighteenth century France was phenomenal. The attention to the smells of that period was nothing short of amazing. Patrick Suskind has written an amazingly odd story that you will not likely read any where else.
The story unfolds effortlessly and you are made to simply accept Grenouille's unique gift, life-long obsession and bittersweet curse. Olfaction is a mysterious sense to begin with. It is atavistic, inescapably emotional and resistant to mnemonic recall. And Suskind expertly builds on these fleeing attributes a robust story, one that brings to mind first experiences and reticent desires and concealed fears.
The book is not only majestic but it is also set in a biblical-like footing. The protagonist treads through life like a forgettable ghost. Then he goes into an intense self-exile, fasting in a cave before coming into the wold to fulfill his mission. And even though his mission is as ethereal and ephemeral as a passing scent, no one will be able to forget him.
The movie was a good adaptation but it does not even compare to the book.
A very unusual but gripping tale, I must say. Well written, definitely.
This is the story of Grenouille, a baby born without hopes and left on a pile of rubbish by his own mother. Certain death, especially in 1738, would be expected but does not happen. Against all odds, Grenouille survives and grows up with a very distinctive feature: his olfactory system. From infancy, no scent, no smell, unpleasant or otherwise, escapes his nostrils. He categorizes each one of them and an endless sort of data base is stored in his brain.
A very inconspicuous fellow, without distinctive features, he is able to survive in a world that has deceived him from day one. And in turn, in his profound uneasiness, he becomes the deceiver. Little by little he starts to realise that his olfactory ability is indeed something that could turn useful, one day. Something for which people would appreciate him perhaps. Real love, real affection, he does not know. Perhaps he yearns for it. But in reality, he loathes people and is comfortable in his loneliness. And one day (he's about 12 by now) he picks up a faint scent in the air that he cannot name but gives him an incredible yearning. An irresistible urge to find the source of that scent and an infallible nose lead him to that source.....
From then on, a lot else happens. And Grenouille, that fragile, plain, indistinct, shadowy and secretive being takes us from one side of France to the next on a twisted olfactory errand. It is impossible not to be awed by this very distinctive feature of his. With it, when `utilized' properly, he is able to do wonders.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
It's an amazing book, with a plot and a well-structured thriller . It's amazing from start to finish . With an unexpected ending . Very interesting. I recommend it.Published 6 months ago by NYManhattan
I really enjoyed the description of the scents. They really came alive for me. The translation was very well done. Now I will look forward to see if the movie can compare.Published 8 months ago by renee bellavance
Although a work of literature, this novel transcends not only its genre, but its very form. PERFUME operates as a multi-sensory experience: you smell it, taste it, grow horrified... Read morePublished on Nov. 3 2011 by Tintin
A tick is an arachnid which has eight legs and not six like Patrick Suskind described in the book. It is just a minor detail that has been annoying me every since I read the book.Published on Oct. 20 2010 by Monsieur Pie-pie
Once I picked up this book I could not put it down. It's dark, absurd, unique, beautiful and disturbing all at once. I loved every bit of it.Published on Nov. 24 2007 by Doobwa
Absolutly the worst most painful thing I have ever read. Having recieved it as a gift.I read it to the end Awaiting somthing redeeming in this miserable contrived tale to arise but... Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2007 by marlow