Thursday, April 26, 2007


Halfway through Patrick Suskind’s Perfume, The story of a murderer (translated from the original German title Das Parfum), I felt the novel contained an almost absurd fetish for morality, with characters that torment or otherwise take advantage of the uniquely skilled Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, abruptly but conveniently amputated from the narrative after serving their purpose in aiding Grenouille’s initially ambiguous quest. By the end, I realized Suskind was not being moral, but understanding and sympathetic of the misanthropic Grenouille, who distanced from the world by both smell and appearance, regains it back by scent. Smell – perhaps the feeblest of the senses, acquires astronomical proportions in Grenouille, who neglects all his other senses in favor of it. Suskind’s writing is easy but effective, even reaching a level of elegiac sarcasm on human perception in one particular scene at the gallows near the ending. But while I still cannot share Suskind’s patriarchal sympathy for Grenouille, a feeling of awe and a faint sense of admiration is nevertheless unavoidable.