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Perfume by Patrick Suskind
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Perfume (original 1985; edition 1985)

by Patrick Suskind, John E. Woods (Translator)

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11,901285216 (3.96)277
Member:lyzard
Title:Perfume
Authors:Patrick Suskind
Other authors:John E. Woods (Translator)
Info:Pocket Books/Washington Square Press, 1991
Collections:Genre
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Work details

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

1001 (78) 1001 books (71) 18th century (134) 20th century (86) classic (43) crime (165) fiction (1,166) France (307) German (249) German literature (189) Germany (86) historical (103) historical fiction (265) history (44) horror (125) literature (125) murder (303) mystery (156) novel (231) Paris (128) perfume (176) read (154) Roman (137) scent (51) serial killer (110) smell (63) thriller (111) to-read (164) translation (49) unread (54)
  1. 70
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (spiphany)
  2. 61
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (klerulo)
    klerulo: Both these works attempt to get inside the head of singularly amoral sociopathic murderers.
  3. 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.
  4. 20
    Brother of Sleep by Robert Schneider (HazardMain)
  5. 10
    The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading: Monster Hercules Barefoot, His Wonderful Love and Terrible Hatred by Carl-Johan Vallgren (olyvia)
  6. 43
    The Alienist by Caleb Carr (freya727)
  7. 32
    The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (norabelle414)
  8. 22
    The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (spiphany)
  9. 00
    Tongue by Kyung-Ran Jo (infiniteletters)
  10. 00
    Zeroville by Steve Erickson (VisibleGhost)
    VisibleGhost: An obsession with movies instead of scent.
  11. 00
    An Absolute Gentleman by R. M. Kinder (GirlMisanthrope)
  12. 23
    Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (mcenroeucsb)
  13. 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 277 mentions

English (209)  Spanish (29)  French (10)  Dutch (10)  Italian (8)  German (6)  Swedish (5)  Portuguese (Portugal) (3)  Norwegian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (285)
Showing 1-5 of 209 (next | show all)
One of the best books ever written about being an artist. ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
the best book i have ever read!! the descriptions are so detailed that you suddenly are in his body using his nose and thinking like him. a book that everybody needs to have read at least one in their life.
read the book before you see the movie, this is one of the rare movie that will not ruin the book and makes you understand it better ( )
1 vote Sarah.Hansrote | Feb 12, 2014 |
Sometimes the convoluted sentences threw me for a loop. Nothing interrupts beautiful prose like a "wait...what?" Likeable book but I sort of expected more from it somehow. I also really didn't like the end, it seemed both too convenient and like a cop-out. ( )
  newskepticx | Dec 18, 2013 |
This book was odd, really odd. I struggled with it because it was odd. The protagonist, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is not likeable. His mother planed to leave him in a pile of fish offal to die but he survived. She was beheaded, thus his name Jean-Baptiste, is a reminder of his mother and his last name means frog. But the oddest thing about Grenouille is he has no odor. He has no scent at all. Grenouille was born July 17, 1738 in Paris, France. While Grenouille has no odor he has an extraordinary sense of smell. The story follows Grenouille over the next thirty some years as he is rejected by the wet nurse, the monk, placed in an orphanage, indentured to a tanner and finally he manages to get into the perfume business where he is able to learn how to put his sense of smell to his advantage. During this early time, he discovers a scent that he “has to have”, the smell of a young virgin on the brink of womanhood. The next span of time, Grenouille takes himself into the wilderness where he spends seven years to avoid smelling any human smell. This section is very strange, there is a part that reads like Genesis and it reads as if Grenouille is a god, a creator. From here, Grenouille goes to Grasse (he has his papers as a journeyman perfumer) and he finds a business to attach himself where he learns more methods used in creating perfumes. He also finds a new virgin and again wants to capture that scent. Jean-Baptiste has also discovered he has no scent and therefore no identity so he begins working on creating scents for himself. He finds different ones that work for various occasions. He also decides to create a scent that will make mankind love him. Well that is enough, if this intrigues you, you will need to read the book. The ending is, well, it is a bit of surprise. One thing that also occurs, everywhere that Grenouille goes, death follows. The mother dies, the orphan mistress dies, the perfumer in France dies. The deaths are natural deaths but all odd deaths or deaths they feared the most.

************This section may contain spoilers not otherwise available in most areas**********

For originality this story takes 5 stars. I felt like there is so much there the author is trying to say through this story but what I feel is that it follows the life of Jesus only in reverse. Grenouille is introduced by his mother who is beheaded. He spends time in the wilderness but instead of resisting temptation, he goes with the grandiose. At this point he heads into his ministry. Instead of healing he brings death even though at first he often brings lots of money to those he joins. Instead of being rejected as he is taken to die (very similar to Jesus by the way) all people feel total love for him and want him.

Character development; yes Grenouille’s character is developed and through him we know some of the other characters but it really is a march through several characters lives.

The language of perfume and the business is very interesting. The writing is poetic at times.

Emotional impact. Because this is a bit of a horror in so many ways, there is not a feeling of pleasure nor is it a nice picture of people. It is also a mystery and the ending is truly unpredictable at least I think so. I think it is going to be hard to quit thinking about this story.

This book made me think about the killings by people who are bullied in school, shunned by society and have gone out and killed. The protagonist is not treated badly in general but he also is not especially noted. He is just easy to overlook. He has no scent, he has no identity. People pay no attention. He has no attachment to people. He hates how they smell. The only thing he loves is smell. The protagonist is a murderer but as in so many cases, he takes his reason with him and no one will ever know why.

Odd story, just odd. ( )
1 vote Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
There are some books which can be called unique. They may be good, bad or indifferent: but their authors strike out from the trodden paths of narrative themes and structure to explore totally new vistas, so that the product becomes unique. Perfume by Patrick Suskind is such a book.

Jean Baptiste Grenouille is "an abominable and gifted personage, in an era which was not lacking in abominable and gifted personages". Born a bastard in the stinking heart of the city of Paris in the eighteenth century under a gutting table, the first cry he utters sends his mother to the scaffold for abandoning an infant. Grenouille grows up by sucking many wet nurses dry, survives the horrendous childhood of an orphan in an age without mercy, and grows up to become a successful perfumer. For this is his unique gift: the child who does not emit any smell himself is blessed with extraordinary olfactory capabilities, which allows him to recognise, separate and catalogue in his mind all the different odours he comes into contact with.

But simple identification is not enough for Jean. He is driven by the insatiable urge to possess any smell he likes for himself; he will move heaven and earth to extract it from its origin, make a perfume out of it and keep it with him. He is not bothered that the object which originates the smell will be destroyed in the process of extraction: he is a "smell-vampire". And like a vampire, it is the smell of virgins which drives him wild. Ultimately, Grenouille's gift and single-minded obsession proves to be the cause of both his uplift and undoing...

Suskind has written a gripping novel which will hook and pull the reader in from the first sentence onwards. However, this is not a simple horror story or thriller: it has got layers of meaning hidden beneath one another which will come out on careful reading.

Jean Baptiste Grenouille is a masterly creation. His insatiable thirst for smells makes him a truly terrifying "collector": one who cannot enjoy his passion the normal way, but must possess the object of his desire (I was reminded of Frederick Clegg in John Fowles' "The Collector") completely. The fact that he lacks a characteristic odour himself enhances his vampiric nature. Also, all the people who profit from him come to a grisly end, like the poor misguided souls who make a pact with the devil.

Joseph Campbell has made the slogan "Follow your bliss" very popular - but how to know whether your bliss is good or bad? I have always wondered about the concept of "negative bliss". Both Gandhi and Hitler could have been said to be following their bliss in different ways. While reading this novel, I was struck by the realisation that the difference is in one's attitude. If one is doing it because one cannot be doing anything else - following one's karma, if you want to put it that way - then it is bliss. But if one is driven by an insatiable need which feeds on itself, one ends up being a vampire. Ultimately, it consumes oneself.

Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote Nandakishore_Varma | Sep 28, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 209 (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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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
smell everything /
got lost in a world of greed /
devoured at market 
(aychan)

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 6 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

Four editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140120831, 0141037504, 0141041153, 0734306768

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