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Perfume by Patrick Suskind

Perfume (original 1985; edition 1985)

by Patrick Suskind, John E. Woods (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,227289207 (3.96)291
Authors:Patrick Suskind
Other authors:John E. Woods (Translator)
Info:Pocket Books/Washington Square Press, 1991

Work details

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind (1985)

  1. 90
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (spiphany)
  2. 71
    Crime and Punishment by Fedor Mikhaïlovitch Dostoïevski (klerulo)
    klerulo: Both these works attempt to get inside the head of singularly amoral sociopathic murderers.
  3. 30
    Brother of Sleep by Robert Schneider (HazardMain)
  4. 20
    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.
  5. 43
    The Alienist by Caleb Carr (freya727)
  6. 10
    De Sade's Valet by Nikolaj Frobenius (bluepiano)
  7. 10
    The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading: Monster Hercules Barefoot, His Wonderful Love and Terrible Hatred by Carl-Johan Vallgren (olyvia)
  8. 32
    The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (norabelle414)
  9. 00
    Zeroville by Steve Erickson (VisibleGhost)
    VisibleGhost: An obsession with movies instead of scent.
  10. 00
    Tongue by Kyung-Ran Jo (infiniteletters)
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    The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (spiphany)
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    An Absolute Gentleman by R. M. Kinder (GirlMisanthrope)
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    Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (mcenroeucsb)
  14. 13
    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.

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» See also 291 mentions

English (211)  Spanish (30)  French (11)  Dutch (10)  Italian (8)  German (6)  Swedish (5)  Portuguese (Portugal) (3)  Norwegian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (289)
Showing 1-5 of 211 (next | show all)
A gruesome novel about scent and a manipulative man who had no scent himself and who had a powerful sense of smell and could create any perfume for any occasion. the novel is well created, as we follow Grenouille on his journey from Paris to the Auvergne and Grasse and also his journey to realising his ambition to make the most amazing perfume that will inspire love. ( )
  Tifi | Jun 29, 2014 |
'His discerning nose unravelled the knot of vapour and stench into single strands of unitary odors', 16 Jun 2014

This review is from: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Paperback)
Very horrible but totally compelling, this story seemed to start out like a fairy tale, as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a man with no smell - and yet who has a magical 'nose' for smell - goes to live with a failing parfumier. As he saves his employer's business, it all seemed like 'The Elves and the Shoemaker'.
At this point I happened to read a review of the book online which said that Grenouille was an allegory for Hitler, and as the book progressed, this becomes more apparent.
(spoiler alert) Firstly in some of the images of his time in the perfume factory in Grasse, where descriptions of the processing techniques of the flowers remind the reader of the Holocaust. But also in terms of Hitler's inexplicable charisma that enslaved a nation. For when Grenouille manages to distil a perfume that gives him an attractive odour, he is no longer an insignificant little man, to be reviled...
An impressive read. ( )
  starbox | Jun 15, 2014 |
completed 5/20/14 3.5/5 ( )
  bookmagic | May 21, 2014 |
I wanted to give this book 3.5 but there is no way... There are around 40 pages that according to me should be eliminate. But the book is good besides that pages the rest of the book put me really inside and the story made me more aware of my senses.... Pretty good book ( )
  CaroPi | May 6, 2014 |
Once, things were simpler. Men smelled of toil, tobacco, Brut or Old Spice. Women smelled of tobacco, Tweed, Tramp or Chanel No 5. Perfume adverts were straightforward. For men, a picture of a bloke, usually a sportsman, and so presumably in need of something to disguise the odour of his occupation, liniment and sweat for a boxer, whatever that smell is that builds up inside a man’s skin-tight one-piece leather jumpsuit for a motorcyclist. For women, a glamorous woman, possibly sporting a fur coat. The message was obvious; a spot of scent either splashed all over or applied artfully behind the ears and you too could smell like success and beauty.
Now things are a little more sophisticated, which is to say bloody strange. Perfume for men is advertised usually by a chap in pants so tight one can determine his religion, who has spent many hours in the gym to become the muscly apex of masculinity, but who oddly appears to be completely hairless. Maybe that’s why he needs a manly scent, despite looking like he’s just stepped down from a plinth. For women, it’s still somebody incredibly glamorous, only today she is unlikely to be wearing a fur. Or pants.
Things get odder still when one considers the world of celebrity scents. Christ alone knows what famous singers smell like when they finish a two hour set that includes much prancing, but I’m betting the dominant top note is not citrus, more likely something akin to sticky lycra and over-warm hair gel. Certain celebrities think so much of themselves that they assume that other people want to smell like them, so market their scents. In truth, it’s probably not their own scent that they are selling, but rather a scent that they have created, that complements their personality, so something fresh and zesty for a singer, something fresh and energetic for a sports star, and for a disgraced seventies teevee star, a mixture of guilty perspiration, gin and whatever polish they use on the dock at the Old Bailey.
Scent is big business. Everybody wants to smell either like somebody else, somebody famous, or at least a better, meaning more attractive, version of themselves.
Things used to be simpler. Nowhen moreso than eighteenth century France as described by Patrick Suskind in his brilliant novel ‘Perfume’. Everybody stinks. This is for a variety of reasons, not all of them related to the racist but also unfortunately true (in this book at least) famous French aversion to washing. This is a novel where the focus is on the sense of scent. People stink because they don’t wash, or change their clothes very often, or brush their teeth, and because they are involved in occupations that involve handling things that stink, like fish, or animals of any sort or, in the case of the tanners, handling things of any sort that come out of animals of any sort. Above Suskind’s Paris rises a miasma of mingled scent, which of course nobody, with one exception, notices, because everyone stinks.
Grenouille is the exception, born without scent himself but with an exceptional sense of smell, Perfume tells his story, from his rough upbringing, to his discovery of vocation as a perfumer and then to his darker acts as he attempts to create a perfume so powerful it will compel adoration.
As well as having no scent, Grenouille has no personality and almost no character. Suskind holds our interest because Grounouille’s lack of any morality whatsoever allows him to commit acts of wickedness that are repellent, but make for thrilling reading. And the characters that surround Grenouille are fascinating, from the wet nurse to the owner of the orphanage where he spends his youth, to the tanner and the perfumer who employ and train him, to the mad Marquis who exhibits him, eighteenth century France appears well stocked with colourful, odourful, characters.
How we smell is a part of who we are. Suskind recognises people scent themselves to present a version of themself to the world, to be seen, or rather, smelled, as they wish to be smelled, and in Perfume presents a man willing to go to extreme ends to do just that. ( )
  macnabbs | Apr 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 211 (next | show all)
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 (62 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Suskind, Patrickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agabio, GiovannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jonkers, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wallenström, UlrikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watteau, AntoineCover artistsecondary 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.)
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:54 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140120831, 0141037504, 0141041153, 0734306768

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