Perfume Author:Patrick Suskind Patrick S?skind's first novel, Perfume (Das Parfum) tells the horrific story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an orphan born in Paris in 1738. When Grenouille's abandoned body is found in the garbage, he is taken to an orphanage, where everyone who comes into contact with him finds something about him to be revulsive. What they are unaware of is ... more »that Grenouille's body does not have any aroma, a distinction which is so subtle that nobody can place their finger on it, but which colors Grenouille's entire life. Grenouille's strange relationship to odors is further highlighted by his own extremely sharp sense of smell, caused, perhaps, by the lack of necessity to sense past his own smell.
When he comes of age, Grenouille manages to apprentice himself to a perfumer and shows a strong aptitude for mixing strange and exotic perfumes. This skill leads him to his desire to cover his own lack of smell and a quest to create the most unique perfume the world has ever known.
By following Grenouille from his birth, when his mother abandoned him to death among the discarded fish guts through his childhood when he discovered how different he was to his apprenticeship, S?skind is able to evoke several different emotions from the reader, ranging from sympathy for the young orphan to curiosity to disgust and hatred. Grenouille's lack of aroma can be seen as representative of his lack of morals in a world in which the amoral and the ethical were struggling to find a new common ground.
S?skind does a remarkable job in portraying Paris of the eighteenth century, relying more on olfactory descriptions than is common in novels, which supports the rather odd conceit behind the narrative. He describes Grenouille and his actions with a detached demeanor, thereby heightening the horrific nature of Grenouille's actions by not commenting on that nature.« less
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille - human or monster? Both? Just when I found myself feeling sympathetic to this young man who grew up without human kindness, the monster side of him would emerge and I could sense his scorn for people he fooled with his pretense of humanity. This was a beautifully written book about the importance of smell that we all take for granted and how one man with an incredible gift took advantage of people.