Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
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An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind’s classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man’s indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.
In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift—an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.
Translated from the German by John E. Woods.
the least cloud in the sky. Of course, he could not see any of these things with his eyes, but rather caught their scents with a nose that from day to day smelled such things more keenly and precisely: the worm in the cauliflower, the money behind a beam, and people on the other side of a wall or several blocks away. But Madame Gaillard would not have guessed that fact in her wildest dream, even if that blow with the poker had left her olfactory organ intact. She was convinced that, feebleminded
drawing him irresistibly to it. He walked up the rue de Seine. No one was on the street. The houses stood empty and still. The people were down by the river watching the fireworks. No hectic odour of humans disturbed him, no biting stench of gunpowder. The street smelled of its usual smells: water, faeces, rats, and vegetable matter. But above it hovered the ribbon, delicate and clear, leading Grenouille on. After a few steps, what little light the night afforded was swallowed by the tall
again, Baldini misread Grenouille's outrageous self--confidence as boyish awkwardness. He gave him a friendly smile. "You're a tanner's apprentice, my lad," he said. "I have no use for a tanner's apprentice. I have a journeyman already, and I don't need an apprentice." "You want to make these goatskins smell good, Maitre Baldini? You want to make this leather I've brought you smell good, don't you?" Grenouille hissed, as if he had paid not the least attention to Baldini's answer. "Yes indeed,"
handle these things, your crudity, your primitive lack of judgment, demonstrate to me that you are a bungler, a barbaric bungler, and a beastly, cheeky, snot--nosed brat besides. You wouldn't make a good lemonade mixer, not even a good licorice--water vendor, let alone a perfumer! Just be glad, be grateful and content that your master lets you slop around in tanning fluids! Do not dare it ever again, do you hear me? Do not dare ever again to set a foot across the threshold of a perfumer's shop!"
to bed. A bunk had been set up for him in a back corner of Baldini's laboratory, and he was now about to take possession of it--while his former employer floated down the cold Seine, all four limbs extended. Grenouille rolled himself up into a little ball like a tick. As he fell off to sleep, he sank deeper and deeper into himself, leading the triumphant entry into his innermost fortress, where he dreamed of an odoriferous victory banquet, a gigantic orgy with clouds of incense and fogs of myrrh,