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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (1985) - Patrick Süskind

Related: 1985 - German literature - cannibalism in fiction - 1700s - horror fiction - historical novel

Themes: murder - orgy - smelling

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (1985) - Patrick Süskind
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"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."

"Perhaps the closest analogy to his talent is the musical wunderkind, who has heard his way inside melodies and harmonies to the alphabet of individual tones and now composes completely new melodies and harmonies all on his own. With the one difference, however, that the alphabet of odors is incomparably larger and more nuanced than that of tones; and with the additional difference that the creative activity of Grenouille the wunderkind took place only inside him and could be perceived by no one other than himself."

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a 1985 literary historical horror novel (originally published in German as Das Parfum) by German writer Patrick Süskind.

Set in 18th century France, Perfume relates the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, "one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages".

Born lacking a personal odour (a fact other people find disquieting) but endowed with an incomparable sense of smell, he apprentices himself to a perfumer and becomes obsessed with procuring the perfect scent that will make him fully human. In the process, he creates perfumes - presumably based on pheromones - that powerfully manipulate human emotions, murdering 25 girls to take their scent.

The book features detailed descriptions of the techniques of scent extraction such as maceration and enfleurage.

The end of the film adaptation directed by Tom Tykwer:

Upon his execution day, thousands wait tensely for the spectacle. However, when Grenouille appears, he is suprisingly confronted with the love by all and is revered, rather than hated, in contrast to with previous day in which the people wanted to see him dead. This is due to the perfume made from the women's smells, which surrounds him like a divine aura. [Because of the perfume, the public is in ecstasy and they engage in an orgy].

But the experience of the power has dissatisfied Grenouille, because it is not he that is loved, but the perfume which he created that is loved, so he decides to return to Paris upon finding that the satisfaction that he initially felt has transformed itself into hatred and disgust. In Paris Grenouille approaches a group of people and deliberately overdoses himself with the perfume he created, and while among the group, the effect is so overpowering that they want to hold him as an angel and own a piece of him, at which point they tear him to pieces and eat his remains. --adapted from Perfume: The Story of a Murderer [Oct 2006]

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfume_%28novel%29 [Oct 2006]

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