Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

What was all the fuss about?  I don’t get it.

When this book was first published, I was in kindergarten, so I wasn’t aware of its existence until a couple of years ago.  Even people who didn’t like it agree that it is well written.  The “protagonist” has been described by more than one member of BookCrazy as making their skin crawl.  So out of curiosity, morbid and otherwise, I decided to check it out.

My first impression is a faint recall of Alexandre Dumas, pere, in the style and voice of the work which I greatly appreciated and thought appropriate for the eighteenth century French setting.  An excellent touch if it was done on purpose, a happy coincidence if not.

Second, that Mr. Süskind goes to tremendous lengths in order to portray Grenouille as a loathsome parasite, worthy of nothing but disgust.  An abomination.  A conscienceless, subhuman creature of absolute evil.  We are told this over and over and over again.  Hit me in the head with it why don’t you?

When Grenouille repeats the word storax, committing it to memory, I got a flash of Gollum from Lord of the Rings hissing “My precious”.  Also, something about the description of him when he finally comes out of the cave made me think of Beauty Smith in White Fang.  I have no idea what or why.  That’s just the impression I got.

There were portions of the novel that did leave me disconcerted, but nothing that made my skin crawl.  It was just too overdone.  A truly overwhelming odor.  Perfume is an excellent book.  The time and setting are especially well done.  Unfortunately, I prefer a more subtle scent.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

2 thoughts on “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

  1. In my opinion, Perfume is the greatest work of literature produced in the last quarter of the 20th century.

    First of all it is an outstandingly good story; the plot is most original – which is refreshing, all the characters are unforgetable, the language flows,it is percise, clear even beautiful, but never gets too flowery or comlplicated.

    It is revolutionary and daring, the finest type of satire that requires courage and honesty both from both writer and from the reader.

    Suskind doesn’t mind offending in order to convey his message that humanity (not only in 18th century France)takes itself too seriously and that humility is not out of place.

    There is no end to the analyses this book renders.
    It is the greatest Quest for the Holy Grail story that I have ever read. Light-weights such as Browns and Rowlings can learn a thing or two.

    My condolences to Suskind for his misunderstood masterpiece being turned into a movie… and a flop at that.


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