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Perfume: The Story of a Murdererby Patrick Suskind
Perfume is a well-written, genre-crossing historical tale that delves into the macabre, but it also has the rare quality of being able to change the way you experience life, albeit through an olfactory perspective. Perfume does more than let you get lost in the world of a book — it puts you in touch with one of the strongest senses we possess and magnifies that experience to the extreme.
"He coveted the odor of certain human beings: those rare humans who inspire love." So begins Jean-Baptiste Grenouille's single-minded plot to capture the scent that will change himself and, ultimately, the world. But the scent and the person, so intertwined, must first be wrenched apart and sacrificed to his evil plan. Creepy, gripping, and fabulous!
Synopses & Reviews
The year is 1738; the place, Paris. A baby is born under a fish-mongers bloody table in a marketplace, and abandoned. Orphaned, passed over to the monks as a charity case, already there is something in the aura of the tiny infant that is unsettling. No one will look after him; he is somehow too demanding, and, even more disturbing, something is missing: as his wet nurse tries to explain, he doesnt smell the way a baby should smell; indeed, he has no scent at all.
Slowly, as we watch Jean-Baptiste Grenouille cling stubbornly to life, we begin to realize that a monster is growing before our eyes. With mounting unease, yet hypnotized, we see him explore his powers and their effect on the world around him. For this dark and sinister boy who has no smell himself possesses an absolute sense of smell, and with it he can read the world to discover the hidden truths that elude ordinary men. He can smell the very composition of objects, and their history, and where they have been, he has no need of the light, and darkness is not dark to him, because nothing can mask the odors of the universe.
As he leaves childhood behind and comes to understand his terrible uniqueness, his obsession becomes the quest to identify, and then to isolate, the most perfect scent of all, the scent of life itself.
At first, he hones his powers, learning the ancient arts of perfume-making until the exquisite fragrances he creates are the rage of Paris, and indeed Europe. Then, secure in his mastery of these means to an end, he withdraws into a strange and agonized solitude, waiting, dreaming, until the morning when he wakes, ready to embark on his monstrous quest: to find and extract from the most perfect living creatures—the most beautiful young virgins in the land— that ultimate perfume which alone can make him, too, fully human. As his trail leads him, at an ever-quickening pace, from his savage exile to the heart of the country and then back to Paris, we are caught up in a rising storm of terror and mortal sensual conquest until the frenzy of his final triumph explodes in all its horrifying consequences.
Told with dazzling narrative brilliance and the haunting power of a grown-up fairy tale, Perfume is one of the most remarkable novels of the last fifty years.
An international sensation from the moment of its publication in Germany last year, this is one of the most extraordinary novels published in years: the story of a monster loose in 18th-century France and his quest for the perfect perfume.
About the Author
Patrick Süskind was born in Ambach, near Munich, in 1949. After a problem with his hands made it impossible for him to pursue his ambitions as a concert pianist, Süskind enrolled in the University of Munich, where he studied medieval and modern history. His first play, The Double Bass, written in 1980, became an international success, performed in Germany, in Switzerland, at the Edinburgh Festival, in London, and at the New Theatre in Brooklyn. His first novel, Perfume, became a globally acclaimed bestseller with more than fifteen million copies sold worldwide. Mr. Süskind lives and writes in Munich.
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