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Perfume : The Story Of A Murderer : Popular Penguins - Suskind Patrick

Perfume : The Story Of A Murderer

Popular Penguins

Paperback Published: 1st September 2008
ISBN: 9780141037509
Number Of Pages: 276

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Patrick Suskind's Perfume follows the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, abandoned at birth in the slums of eighteenth-century Paris, but blessed with an outstanding sense of smell. This gift enables Jean-Baptiste to master the art of perfume making, but one scent evades him: that of a virgin, whom he must possess to ensure her innocence and beauty are preserved. Laced with sense and suspense, this is a beguiling tale of lust, desire and deadly obsession.

About The Author

Patrick Suskind was born in 1949. He studied history in Munich and was a writer for television before he wrote Perfume. His second novel, The Pidgeon, later adapted as a play, was first staged at teh BAC Theater in London in May 1993. His play The Double Bass was first staged in Munich in 1981 and has since become one of the most performed plays in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It has also been performed at the Edinburgh Festival and at the Royal National Theatre in London. His novella The Story of Mr Sommer (1992) has, like Perfume, been a huge success all over the world, and his Three Stories and a Reflection was published in 1996. Patrick Suskind lives in Munich.


Good story, well written


A good, unusual story written in an older style by a modern author, descriptions are wonderful and take you into the scene. Have a copy, gave a copy.

Brisbane Aus


A great read


This was a great read, and not at all what I had expected. I would recommend this to someone who likes an older fashioned novel, rather than a modern read. The plot was well written in depth and followed smoothly throughout the book. It was a pleasant surprise!

Sydney, AU


Perfume : The Story Of A Murderer

4.0 2


He walked along the wall to the spot behind which he knew the garden was located. Although the girl was apparently not in the garden but in the house, in her room behind closed windows, her scent floated down to him like a steady, gentle breeze. Grenouille stood quite still. He was not intoxicated or dizzy as he had been the first time he had smelled it. He was filled with the happiness of a lover who has heard or seen his darling from afar and knows that he will bring her home within the year. It was really true – Grenouille, the solitary tick, the abomination, Grenouille the Monster, who had never felt love and would never be able to inspire it, stood there beside the city wall of Grasse on that day in March and loved and was profoundly happy in his love.

True, he did not love another human being, certainly not the girl who lived in the house beyond the wall. He loved her scent – that alone, nothing else, and only in as much as it would one day be his alone. He would bring it home within the year, he swore it by his very life. And after this strange oath, or betrothal, this promise of loyalty given to himself and to his future scent, he left the place light of heart and returned to town through the porte du Cours.

That night, as he lay in his cabin, he conjured up the memory of the scent – he could not resist the temptation and immersed himself in it, caressed it, and let it caress him, so near to it, as fabulously close as if he possessed it already in reality, his scent, his own scent; and he made love to it and to himself through it for an intoxicatingly deliciously long time. He wanted this self-loved feeling to accompany him in his sleep. But at the very instant when he closed his eyes, in the moment of the single breath it takes to fall asleep, it deserted him, was suddenly gone, and in its place the room was filled with the cold, acrid smell of goat stall.

Grenouille was terrified. What happens, he thought, if the scent, once I possess it . . . what happens if it runs out? It's not the same as it is in your memory, where all scents are indestructible. The real thing gets used up in this world. It's transient. And by the time it has been used up, the source I took it from will no longer exist. And I will be as naked as before and will have to get along with surrogates, just like before. No, it will be even worse than before! For in the meantime I will have known it and possessed it, my own splendid scent, and I will not be able to forget it, because I never forget a scent. And for the rest of my life I will feed on it in my memory, just as I was feeding right now from the premonition of what I will possess. . . What do I need it for at all?

This was a most unpleasant thought for Grenouille. It frightened him beyond measure to think that once he did possess the scent that he did not yet possess, he must inevitably lose it. How long could he keep it? A few days? A few weeks? Perhaps a whole month, if he perfumed himself very sparingly with it? And then? He saw himself shaking the last drops from the bottle, rinsing the flacon with alcohol so that the last little bit would not be lost, and then he saw, smelled, how his beloved scent would vanish in the air, irrevocably, for ever. It would be like a long slow death, a kind of suffocation in reverse, an agonizing gradual self-evaporation into the wretched world.

He felt chilled. He was overcome with a desire to abandon his plans, to walk out into the night and disappear. He would wander across the snow-covered mountains, not pausing to rest, hundreds of miles into the Auvergne, and there creep into his old cave and fall asleep and die. But he did not do it. He sat there and did not yield to his desire, although it was strong. He did not yield, because that desire was an old one of his, to run away and hide in a cave. He knew about that already. What he did not yet know was what it was like to possess a human scent as splendid as the scent of the girl behind the wall. And even knowing that to possess that scent he must pay the terrible price of losing it again, the very possession and the loss seemed to him more desirable than a prosaic renunciation of both. For he had renounced things all his life. But never once had he possessed and lost.

Gradually the doubts receded and with them the chill. He sensed how the warmth of his blood revitalized him and how the will to do what he had intended to do again took possession of him. Even more powerfully than before in fact, for that will no longer originated from simple lust, but equally from a well-considered decision. Grenouille the tick, presented with the choice between drying up inside himself or letting himself drop, had decided for the latter, knowing full well that this drop would be his last. He lay back on his makeshift bed, cosy in his straw, cosy under his blanket, and thought himself very heroic.

Grenouille would not have been Grenouille, however, if he had long been content with a fatalist's heroic feelings. His will to survive and conquer was too tough, his nature too cunning, his spirit too crafty for that. Well and good he had decided to possess the scent of the girl behind the wall. And if he lost it again after a few weeks and died of the loss, that was well and good too. But better yet would be not to die and still possess the scent, or at least to delay its loss as long as humanly possible. One simply had to preserve it better. One must subdue its evanescence without robbing it of its character – a problem of the perfumer's art.

There are scents that linger for decades. A cupboard rubbed with musk, a piece of leather drenched with cinnamon oil, a blob of ambergris, a cedar chest – they all possess virtually eternal olfactory life. While other things – lime oil, bergamot, jonquil and tuberose extracts, and many floral scents – evaporate within a few hours if they are exposed to the air in a pure, unbound form. The perfumer counteracts this fatal circumstance by binding scents that are too volatile by putting them in chains, so to speak, taming their urge for freedom – though his art consists of leaving enough slack in the chains for the odour seemingly to preserve its freedom, even when it is tied so deftly that it cannot flee. Grenouille had once succeeded in performing this feat perfectly with some tuberose oil, whose ephemeral scent he had chained with tiny quantities of civet, vanilla, labdanum and cypress – only then did it truly come into its own. Why should not something similar be possible with the scent of this girl? Why should he have to use, to waste, this most precious and fragile of all scents in pure form? How crude! How extraordinarily unsophisticated! Did one leave diamonds uncut! Did one wear gold in nuggets around one's neck? Was he, Grenouille, a primitive pillager of scents like Druot or these other macerators, distillers and blossom crushers? Or was he not, rather, the greatest perfumer in the world?

He banged his fist against his brow – to think he had not realized this before. But of course this unique scent could not be used in a raw state. He must set it like the most precious gemstone. He must design a diadem of scent, and at its sublime acme, intertwined with the other scents and yet ruling over them, his scent would gleam. He would make a perfume using all the precepts of the art, and the scent of the girl behind the wall would be the very soul of it.

As the adjuvants, as base, tenor and soprano, as zenith and as fixative, musk and civet, attar of roses or neroli were inappropriate – that was certain. For such a perfume, for a human perfume, he had need of other ingredients.

ISBN: 9780141037509
ISBN-10: 0141037504
Series: Popular Penguins
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 276
Published: 1st September 2008
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 18.1 x 11.4  x 1.6
Weight (kg): 0.16
Edition Number: 1