Perfume by Patrick Süskind This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

July 28, 2011
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Repulsive, grotesque, and fascinating are merely three of the myriad of words that come to mind when reading the novel Perfume, by Patrick Süskind. The tale told by Süskind is as rare as the perfumes created by Grenouille, the book’s detached, macabre protagonist, gifted with an innate affinity to smell. Grenouille is disconnected, absorbed within an absolute obsession to create perfection, trapped within his very own confines as he attempts to survive in a world in which with his every move he is struck by a swarm of poignant smells. He journeys alone, at times literally, within the dirty, filthy alleys and outskirts of the cities of 18th century France, as exquisitely described by Süskind by means of visceral olfactory accounts. Perfume is a vivid trip to the senses, given the detail employed in Süskind’s evocative prose, which is as spine tingling and disturbing as it is captivating. But more so, the book offers a look into the mind of a tortured soul that takes to macabre means, unbeknownst to him to a certain extent, to coexist, seeking not adulation but instead acceptance of his very own existence. Often times throughout the novel, the lack of consideration that we give to the sense of smell is brought to the reader’s attention, whereas to Grenouille, an abominable human being without a smell of his own it, in a sense, is all he feels. The sincerity with which Grenouille acts only accentuates the brutality of the crimes he commits and the nature of his actions, which is left uncommented upon. Perfume is a highly distinctive, lavish novel. It is of its own kind, incomparable, unrepeatable, a masterpiece in its own right.

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