Perfume: A Smelly Novel
Perfume, by Patrick Suskind
by Lucas Hoelscher
Perfume, written by Patrick Suskind, throws us into the odd and disturbing setting of 18th century France. With the description of an scientific lab and the creativity of a child, Suskind creates scenes with so much detail you don't know whether to throw the book away or keep your eyes glued to the page. This adventurous novel will wind you through twists and turns in a classic period of time.
Grenouille, a bastard child with a supernatural sense of smell, is thrown into the world without a scent of his own. Disowned and abandoned, Grenouille becomes a shadow in society. His keen sense of smell leads him on an adventure to find the true scent of a human. Oddly enough, this scent is prominent in pre-pubescent girls. His quest leaves him to extract this odour in any way possible. His blunt intelligence and lack of human emotion collide as he is found guilty of the crimes he commits. He uses his concoction to sway the crowd into personifying their deepest desires, and the rest of the book is a massive orgy that should make any reader quite uncomfortable.
Suskind's old-fashioned take on a modern issue is an astonishingly smooth transition, with Grenouille being the creator of deep emotions, and scent symbolizing every behaviour imaginable. We see a strong link to modern civil ideologies within the novel that suggest the act of hiding our emotions in society. Scent in this novel is extremely significant as it is the trigger for every emotion that is displayed throughout the entire book. Anger from the nurse when caring for the Grenouille because he doesn't possess a scent of his own, happiness from Baldini as classic perfumes bring tears to his eyes, or the desires displayed in the final scene of the novel, that one will be left for you to read. The author creates a double meaning throughout the entire book that will always have some link to modern living. The overarching theme is that we hide our most human instincts and desires in society. Suskind brings up the argument of whether this is right or wrong by describing humans as part of a . This is completely up for you to decide.
All in all, you may very well find this novel rich with detail and emotion, or it could be the most disgusting, inhumane, book you ever read. Suskind's civil throwback will shoot you into a world of beautiful images, and show you ones you wish you could get out of your head. It is a work of art that requires an acquired taste.