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El perfume : Historia de un asesino by…
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El perfume : Historia de un asesino (original 1985; edition 1992)

by Patrick Süskind, Pilar Giralt Gorina (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,439300196 (3.95)295
Member:caflores
Title:El perfume : Historia de un asesino
Authors:Patrick Süskind
Other authors:Pilar Giralt Gorina (Translator)
Info:Barcelona : RBA , 1992
Collections:Enero
Rating:****
Tags:literatura, novela, Alemania, siglo XX, siglo XVIII

Work details

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

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» See also 295 mentions

English (220)  Spanish (31)  French (11)  Dutch (10)  Italian (8)  German (6)  Swedish (5)  Portuguese (Portugal) (3)  Norwegian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (299)
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
Read decades ago as a teen (in German.) It's still with me today! ( )
  Swissmama | Apr 8, 2015 |
A very dark read and yet you have these moments where you really feel for the main character. He's not a nice guy but consider the situation under which he grew up and how terribly he was treated. Then, just at the time when you're feeling compassion, the author kicks in something to remind you how bad a person he really is. And when you're starting to feel a high ick factor from being in his head, you suddenly read something that enhances your sympathy.
Exceptionally well done all the way through, including with the plot. The end was very different than what I expected, and a masterful performance. I will be looking for more novels by this author. A fantastic read! ( )
1 vote Laine-Cunningham | Feb 22, 2015 |
First let me start by saying any romantic fantasy one has about Paris or France for that matter in the 1700's, will be dashed by this book. Let's just say the smell alone will make you turn tail and run back to your time machine. This is a first; a book that brings the sense of smell to the forefront. Who even thinks about their sense of smell? What kind of personal odor do you have? I have been told that I smell like a hospital. Which makes sense. But lets move on. The author did an amazing job of bringing Paris and the other areas to life, through some description and and amazing description of smell. After some thought, we modern humans live in a sanitized, odorless, colorless place. Its kinda sad. Even though I did just say one would want to run back to their time machine. Just imagine the culture shock of when the westerner gets off a plane in India, that is what I felt like while reading this.

But let us talk about our murderer. You can't help but have sympathy initially. But it turns into distaste. Then to dislike. Then you begin to revile him. Is that the word? (I may come back and change that) In retrospect I can find no characters in this book of any redeeming qualities what so ever. I am also bothered the fact that as a reader I feel cheated. Justice was not handed out to our murderer. You may read this book and come to a different conclusion. And the fact that I wanted and hungered for his justice as it was to be meted out (and I did not get what I wanted) kinda bothers me. What does that say about me personally?

I am at a loss to say much more. If you have an affinity for historical fiction that author does an excellent job at bringing that time period and the people to life.

And I leave it at 3 stars because I did not get the kind of justice that I wanted. Maybe I was one of those folks in past life who cheered in the Coliseum. ( )
  jaddington | Feb 16, 2015 |
At birth Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was tossed aside into a pile of fish guts in the slums of eighteenth-century Paris. His mother believed he would be a still born, just like all the others and quickly got rid of him to continue working. From birth Jean-Baptiste was a little different; born without a scent but grows into a man with an absolute sense of smell. He quickly found work as a perfumer, learning the trade. He wanted to capture the scents of the world, but more importantly the one that intoxicated him; the scent of a beautiful young virgin woman.

When first published in German in 1985, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Das Parfum: Die Geschichte eines Mörders) was a literary sensation for author Patrick Süskind. Two years later it was translated into English by John E. Woods, who went on to win the PEN Translation Prize for his work with this book. The original cover (which sadly isn’t used now) was from the painting Nymphe et satyre by Antoine Watteau 1715-16, which in English translates to Nymphs and Satyr. The novel was the inspiration for Nirvana’s Scentless Apprentice, Rammstein’s Du riechst so gut, Red Head Girl by Air and so on.

The point I am trying to make is that this book was a huge success that went on to inspire many. This is actually a re-read for me and I first read this almost five years ago and found myself being completely captivated but the book. When I first reviewed the novel, I said that “I love an anti-hero and Jean-Baptiste Grenouille didn’t disappoint as the cold hearted, scent obsessed protagonist.” Which is true, but this time I wanted to look at the novel a little more in-depth.

Firstly, I found it interesting the way women where portrayed within this book. At birth and childhood, women are represented as carers but his mother, wet-nurses and the nuns all reject Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. Then when he grew into a man, the role of the woman changed from carer to the object of desire. However, for Jean-Baptiste, the idea of acceptance by a woman remained strong throughout his life, but he remained alone, which made him feel undesirable.

I had been thinking about Perfume since first reading the novel and I came to the conclusion that scent worked as a metaphor for lust in this book. A lust that Jean-Baptiste had towards young virgins; which is so typical and boring but I was interested in the way Süskind used smell to explore this idea of lust. While this still rung true for me the second time around, I also began to look at smell as a representation for class; the higher the social standing the better you smell.

Both ideas seem to come together at the end, when Jean-Baptiste releases the fragrance everyone smells the same; become equals. When it comes to theme of lust, everyone is over come with desire and the scent makes everyone attracted to each other. No one has to feel the way Jean-Baptiste felt, rejected from birth. However this scene left me curious, if everyone becomes desirable and equal; why is everyone straight in this scene. There is no mention of any same sex coupling and I felt a little perplexed by this; it is not like everyone is straight or no mention that the scent only attracts you to the opposite sex.

It is an interesting experience re-reading a book, I don’t often do it but I am starting to see the appeal. First time around, I really focused on the plot and when I picked up Perfume again all that came flooding back which allowed me to explore themes and ideas within the book. I was able to take what I thought previously and dive deeper into the novel which I found so much more rewarding. I think I have converted myself into a re-reader; I have already started reading The Master and Margarita again.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2015/01/28/perfume-the-story-of-a-murderer-by-pa... ( )
1 vote knowledge_lost | Jan 29, 2015 |
Maybe it was just the time period this story is set in but at times it reminded me of Sweeney Todd. Just without the random song outbursts and with a main character who was extraordinarily creepy in his complete lack of humanness.

It's the extreme lack of humanity in Grenouille that is what made this book so creepy for me. The narrator likens him to a tick, a person with cold detachment from anything remotely resembling human emotion and with a self-serving drive that is the only thing spurring him onward through life. From the moment he's born Grenouille is shown as lacking a key component that signals humanness, a smell. His lack of smell immediately disturbs people, even if most of them don't understand why they have such a strong aversion to a child. Because of this, he gets passed around and generally has a pretty shitty childhood. Yet, despite seeing how sadly his childhood unfolds, Grenouille evokes no sympathy because he has no emotional reaction to anything that happens to him. He just accepts whatever is thrown his way and quietly watches the world while he bides his time. When Grenouille finally decides on a path he wants to pursue he does so in a methodical and ruthless style that is chilling in how easily he seems to accomplish it.

While Grenouille was terrifying in his lack of humanness, humanity itself was disturbing in how the book managed to boil them down to being purely animalistic beings who ultimately are led by baser instincts despite their belief otherwise. Grenouille manages to lead masses of people by using nothing more than their basic sense of smell. He creates perfumes for himself that evoke specific emotional reactions that he changes to meet in correspondence to what his needs are at the moment. His ultimate goal in this is to create a scent that would cause humanity to worship him as a god. This is where my one problem with the book came up, which was actually more of just a mild irritant. The key element for Grenouille's ultimate scent is young virgin women. This had me rolling my eyes that somehow young virgin girls smell so different and so pure that a condensed and large amount of their smell would cause people to believe that the person wearing said scent was some kind of deity. Gag. Other than that, I loved this book and would strongly recommend it to anyone who is fan of horror or psychological thrillers. ( )
  Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 220 (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.
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(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 
(aychan)
basic boy meets girl/
boy's fine nose loves girl's fine scent/
boy wants girl pomade
(hauntedpuppydome)

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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