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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick…

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (1985)

by Patrick Süskind

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
14,376348244 (3.94)370
  1. 110
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (spiphany)
  2. 73
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (klerulo)
    klerulo: Both these works attempt to get inside the head of singularly amoral sociopathic murderers.
  3. 30
    The Bells by Richard Harvell (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Where Perfume is about a boy who has an extraordinary sense of smell, The Bells is about a boy who has extraordinary hearing. The vivid description of sounds in The Bells remind me of the description of scents in Perfume.
  4. 31
    Brother of Sleep by Robert Schneider (HazardMain)
  5. 20
    The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot: His Wonderful Love and His Terrible Hatred by Carl-Johan Vallgren (olyvia)
  6. 10
    De Sade's Valet by Nikolaj Frobenius (bluepiano)
  7. 43
    The Alienist by Caleb Carr (freya727)
  8. 22
    The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (spiphany)
  9. 00
    Tongue by Kyung-Ran Jo (infiniteletters)
  10. 33
    The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (norabelle414)
  11. 00
    An Absolute Gentleman by R. M. Kinder (GirlMisanthrope)
  12. 00
    Zeroville by Steve Erickson (VisibleGhost)
    VisibleGhost: An obsession with movies instead of scent.
  13. 23
    The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (Rosey_Kim)
    Rosey_Kim: Lemon Cake also deals with supernaturally heightened human senses (taste rather than smell) and has a similarly evocative sense of environment.
  14. 25
    Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (mcenroeucsb)
1980s (12)
Europe (156)

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» See also 370 mentions

English (254)  Spanish (35)  French (13)  Dutch (12)  Italian (11)  German (7)  Swedish (5)  Portuguese (Portugal) (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (3)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (347)
Showing 1-5 of 254 (next | show all)
One of the more compelling books I've read.

At no point did I feel anything like compassion or sympathy for the protagonist, but unlike other books that offer unsympathetic leads (Frank Herbert's Man of Two Worlds comes immediately to mind), this didn't sour me to the novel. To the contrary; I found the story all the more riveting for it. It was a study of a monster in a man's form.

I'm gonna have to let this book sit in my mind for a while, but I think this is going to settle into one of the Top 20 Best Books I've Ever Read. ( )
  Ubiquitine | Nov 24, 2018 |
By Patrick Suskind

"Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words appearances, emotions or will."

In 1738 Jean Baptiste Grenouille is born in Paris to impossible circumstances and a grim future. He eventually is sold as a laborer to the owner of a perfumery, Monsieur Grimal. Grenouille obsession with scents and smells starts him on an uncontrollable obsession with owning these scents. He becomes monstrous and cruel in his murderous calculations.
There are a lot of lengthy descriptions that slow the story down, but it is a really good story. ( )
  over.the.edge | Sep 16, 2018 |
This was a fascinating book! I loved every single detail in the book, and it is so well constructed as the perfect lavish perfume Grenuille himself produced.
Every single word, sentence and paragraph is so perfectly measured that gives you the best angle to look at the story. Nor boring, or too overwhelming, just the perfect dose of every single emotion.
It is written in a very balanced way, giving insight of many characters and point of views in the story, making you believe that every single person is right, as his own personal motifs are the best for his/her own good.
I really like the ending as well, cause I think it means that human beings are not that different from one another. In the end we are all the same species, with mild differences in appearance and behavior, but the way we were designed and created is the same for everyone. ( )
  amde | Aug 9, 2018 |
I found this book extremely boring until the last 20%. I guess I was expecting more murder and less extremely detailed descriptions about the process of making perfume. ( )
  jynxmecrazie | Jul 15, 2018 |

From the very outset of this book [a: Patrick Süskind|39402|Patrick Süskind|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1201117958p2/39402.jpg] holds back few punches. He effortlessly constructs the olfactory framework of 1738 Paris until the reader is nearly gagging from the scent of filth and fishes. It in this disreputable district that he deposits Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the gifted child capable of scenting out the smallest odor - but incapable of smelling himself. What follows is already clear from the title itself - it's no great spoiler that Grenouille ends up killing, no great mystery at all where his path leads him. The brilliance of the book lies in the telling of it, the why and in some cases, the very lack of explanation of such.

It's strange to call a book with such an unsavory subject beautiful, but [a: Patrick Süskind|39402|Patrick Süskind|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1201117958p2/39402.jpg] manages to make it just that. The focus on scent above all else is a fascinating one, as olfactory descriptions tend to elude most writers. Grenouille is a surprisingly compelling protagonist, however confusing his own mind tends to be. The scenes in the cave, in particular, are a beautiful depiction of fragmented thinking and imagination. When, scent-drunk, Grenouille falls into his own memories it's a confusing bouquet that overwhelms the reader as much as it does the protagonist.

I think this book thrives the most in what it's created. The film, trailer can be seen here, is a truly gorgeous piece of art. The music that has been borne from the book (notably Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice" and Rammstein's "Du Riechst So Gut") is also surprisingly evocative in its own way. There's something inherently arresting about the idea of someone using our basest of senses in a predatory manner, and being able to control and seduce in a way that we scarcely comprehend.

The concept is fantastic, and the execution painfully good. It's a book so well written that in spite of its length (over 200 pages) can easily be consumed in a single sitting. The concepts within it, the characters, the setting, the sheer physicality of it - will linger in your mind like the very perfumes it describes. It'll send a chill down your spine at least once, if you've a strong constitution - if you don't handle your horror well expect your skin to crawl far more often.

And, yes - see the film. This book and it's film are strong enough to both recommend one another in a huge way. ( )
2 vote Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 254 (next | show all)
"From start to finish, Perfume is a ridiculously improbable piece of verbose claptrap which the author himself evidently found impossible to take seriously for very long at a time....Since very little happens within Grenouille's mind, and he achieves with other characters no relations capable of development, the book requires a good deal of stuffing to achieve the dimensions of a small novel. The best of this material is several different listings of the materials and procedures involved in perfume making. Suskind has done his homework on the topic....The writing of the book is verbose and theatrical."
added by Nickelini | editNew York Review of Books, Robert M. Adams (pay site) (Nov 1, 1986)
Just as Grenouille can manufacture a perfume that infallibly conjures up the same response in anyone who senses it, so Mr. Suskind creates words that provide a satisfying illusion of another time. Grenouille the perfumer becomes a kind of novelist, creating phantom objects in the air, but Mr. Suskind himself is a perfumer of language. This is a remarkable debut.
A delight to the senses, disturbing serial killer, must read!

» Add other authors (68 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Süskind, Patrickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agabio, GiovannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flávio R. KotheTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giralt Gorina, PilarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jonkers, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vilar, JudithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wallenström, UlrikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watteau, AntoineCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woods, John E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
In eighteenth century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary
smell everything /
got lost in a world of greed /
devoured at market 
basic boy meets girl/
boy's fine nose loves girl's fine scent/
boy wants girl pomade

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375725849, Paperback)

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 murder.

In 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 frest-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the "ultimate perfume"—the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brillance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.

Translated from the German by John E. Woods.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:05 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Follows an odorless baby found orphaned in Paris in 1738 as he grows into a monster obsessed with his perfect sense of smell and a desire to capture, by any means, the ultimate scent that will make him human.

» see all 12 descriptions

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Average: (3.94)
0.5 11
1 85
1.5 17
2 260
2.5 62
3 709
3.5 237
4 1548
4.5 230
5 1400

Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140120831, 0141037504, 0141041153, 0734306768

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