Perfume Book Analysis

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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a literary historical cross-genre novel by German writer Patrick Süskind. The story focuses on Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a perfume apprentice in 18th-century France who murders 25 virgins in order to create a perfume with the "perfect scent". Just like the protagonist of the novel, the author takes away from many different pieces of work to make his own novel. At the end of the novel, the protagonist is cannibalized out of “love”, an event which can be an allegory to how the author himself cannibalized past styles and brought on intertextual references mainly from two literary periods, Romanticism and Symbolism. The fact that the author so diligently chose these two literary periods to get his inspiration…show more content…
. ." is the first line of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer in the translation by John E. Woods. To any well read German, these words will immediately be a reminder of the opening of another very well−known novel: "toward the middle of the sixteenth century, there lived . . . one of the most upright and at the same time one of the most terrible men of his days.” This is the translation by Martin Greenberg of the first line of the novella Michael Kohlhaas by Heinrich von Kleist. The similarities between these two openings signal to Suskind's incorporation of Romantics who also authored allegories and linked artistic genius with the criminal mind. Not only is the opening sentence to both works extremely similar, both works similarly deal with a lone human who is larger than life and to some extent are born in the wrong era. Suggestive of Kohlhaas who changes the world, is the scene of Grenouille who also to an extent refashions the world and creates his realm on the mountain. The wording of Grenouille’s profile in the opening is also close to the portrayal of Rene Cardillac, in work by E. T. A. Hoffmann. Cardillac is an artist who is unable to part from his creations and forced to murder to get them back until, like Grenouille, he is finally found and detained. Like Grenouille, Kohlhaas and Cardillac are geniuses of their respective eras, but at the same time…show more content…
A connection can be made between Grenouille - the human lacking an odor and a character without a shadow from a classic German romantic fiction Peter Schlemihl's Remarkable Story by Adalbert von Chamisso. The absence of odor serves as a type of a “magic cape” making its carrier invisible by depriving man of their olfactory characteristics. This magic cape, also called a Tarnkappe is closely associated in German mythology with the dwarfs who, just like Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, dwell in the deepest regions of the earth available. It is exactly in the deepest cave Grenouille can find that he becomes completely inexistent to others for a very long period of time. Not only is Grenouille’s Christian name, Jean-Baptiste closely similar to John the Baptist’s, his wild appearance after just having recently come out of solitude in the cave suggest description of the biblical John who lived a difficult life in the desert. The return to civilization and then adaptation after seven years of life in the wilds is a connection to the nineteenth−century legends associated with Kaspar Hauser and other feral

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