Perfume : the Story of a Murderer, Paperback Book

Perfume : the Story of a Murderer Paperback

Part of the Penguin Essentials series

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Patrick Suskind's Perfume is a classic novel of death and sensuality in Paris'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.

His name was Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, and if his name has been forgotten today, it is certainly not because Grenouille fell short of those more famous blackguards when it came to arrogance, misanthropy, immorality, or, more succinctly, wickedness, but because his gifts and his sole ambition were restricted to a domain that leaves no traces in history: to the fleeting realm of scent . . .''An astonishing tour de force both in concept and execution' Guardian'A fantastic tale of murder and twisted eroticism controlled by a disgusted loathing of humanity ...

Clever, stylish, absorbing and well worth reading' Literary Review'A meditation on the nature of death, desire and decay ... a remarkable debut' Peter Ackroyd, The New York Times Book Review'Unlike anything else one has read.

A phenomenon ... Everyone seems to want to get a whiff of this strange perfume, which will remain unique in contemporary literature' Figaro'An ingenious and totally absorbing fantasy' Daily Telegraph'Witty, stylish and ferociously absorbing' ObserverPatrick Suskind was born near Munich, in 1949.

He studied medieval and modern history at the University of Munich.

His first play, The Double Bass, was written in 1980 and became an international success.

His first novel, Perfume, became an internationally acclaimed bestseller.

He is also the author of The Pigeon and Mr. Summer's Story, and a coauthor of the enormously successful German television series Kir Royal.

Patrick Suskind lives and writes in Munich.


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Review by

Perfume is a sensory delight, albeit with dark and cunning overtones. Süskind presents us with an original perspective of human experience, telling a deliciously baleful story that brings to life that most-maligned of the human senses: the sense of smell. Originally published in Süskind’s native German in 1985, Perfume was translated for English readers the following year.It is essentially a crime story, following the life of the freakishly gifted misfit Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in eighteenth-century France. Grenouille has two characteristics that set him apart from all others: he has no scent of his own, and his sense of smell is extraordinarily acute. On top of that, a childhood of neglect and desperate poverty renders him a sociopath, bereft of empathy and completely amoral.Grenouille “the solitary tick, the abomination” is a tenacious survivor, hideously ugly, yet entirely inconspicuous, due to his complete lack of body odour. He is an intriguing anti-hero, endowed with supernatural olfactory abilities and a fierce, dogged determination. We are almost unwillingly drawn along on Grenouille’s quest, a vocation he discovers when apprenticed to a Parisian perfumer. He is not interested merely in creating magnificent perfumes, he seeks to extract and assimilate the very essence of things.Grenouille’s obsession compels him on a path of murder, patiently acquiring the human scents he craves to satisfy his own unique yearning. The eventual denouement is as surprising as it is shocking, while wonderfully and somewhat perversely satisfying.Grenouille is one of the most striking literary characters of recent decades: ugly, obsessive and stalkingly malevolent, yet doggedly focused and brilliant in his own twisted way. The simultaneous sense of loathing and admiration Süskind manages to generate for his protagonist is a marvelous achievement. This novel is one to be savored, like an unhealthy indulgence.

Review by

'His discerning nose unravelled the knot of vapour and stench into single strands of unitary odors', 16 Jun 2014This 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.

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