Joanne Keitt Major 20th Century Writing



By the scent that seized the air

Oh! The relic of it all

Everyone unfolds their mask


The moment has arrived

And he doesn’t even

Sense it

The drift

The waves

All of this he knows

What he knows?

The scent that’s not his own

What he loves?

The hate that’s found it’s home

What he finds?

The beast within the beauty

Of which he holds the throne


The little man in the blue frock coat, however, had suddenly simply been there, as is he sprouted out of the ground, and he had had a little bottle in his hand that he unstoppered. That was the first thing that any of them could recall: Suskind’s Perfume (308)

(Twilight Zone Music)

Grenouille. Grenouille The Great. Jean Baptist Grenouille. The main…..the main… say character would be an understatement. To say villain would be an insult. Jean Baptist Grenouille was born in the gutter. Literally. Among the stank and the odor of society. The hottest day of the year. Where scent had the eyes of bats and left no trace.

The tick, which makes itself extra small and inconspicuous so that no one will see it and step on it. The lonely tick, which wrapped up in itself, huddles in its tree, blind, deaf and dumb, and simply sniffs, sniffs all year long, for miles around, for the blood of some passing animal that it could never reach on its own power. The tick could let itself drop. It could fall to the floor of the forest and creep a millimeter or two here or there on its six tiny legs and lie down to die under the leaves- it would be no great loss, God knows. But the tick, stubborn, sullen, and loathsome, huddles there and lives and waits. Waits for that most improbable of chances that will bring blood, in animal form, directly beneath its tree. And only then does it abandon caution and drop, and scratch and bore and bite into alien flesh……The young Grenouille was such a tick: (25)

And although to many I may have always been perceived this way, I evolved in depth, and utilized my brilliance although the world may never see it this way…I Grenouille The Great became the controller of scents…an extraordinary, revolutionary perfumer. A developer of masks, if not in fact using my own scentlessness as the guide. I was more than a creator, for that was God’s job–to provide–if He could even provide anything worthy of such an honor, with his scents of Frankenscents. I was more than a blender, a phony, a fake, a thief of scents like the perfumer Baldini.

Giuseppe Baldini had indeed taken off his redolent coat, but only out of long standing habit…..He was old and exhausted, that much was true, and was no longer a great perfumer; but he new he had never in his life been one……He had never invented anything. He was not an inventor. He was a careful producer of traditional scents; he was like a cook who runs a great kitchen with a routine and good recipes, but has never created a dish of his own. He staged this whole hocus-pocus with a study and experiments and inspiration and hush-hush secrecy only because that was part of the professional image of a perfumer and glover. A perfumer was fifty percent alchemist who created miracles-that’s what people wanted. Fine!: (61)

I, on the other hand, was a master of miracles! I was a miracle! I may have been a thief, I’ll admit, but I was also a Savior! Creating the masks that fester within the scent of humankind, human desires, human love. If one can truly prosecute a thief of love than I was ready. Through the sickness of my failures that bought wealth to many. I was ready. To be labled as an experiment just to achieve my victory. I was ready…..but they were not.

So spoke Grenouille the Great and, while the peasantry scent danced and celebrated him, he glided with wide-stretched wings down from his golden clouds, across the nocturnal fields of his soul, and home to his heart: (154)

I did what had to be done. To find the perfect benefactors to my perfect of my exquisite plan. The treasures of my journey; Not violet, not rosemary, not orange blossoms, something much more…….

A murder had been the start of this splendor-if he was at all aware of the fact, it was a matter of total indifference to him. Already he could no longer recall how the girl from the rue des Marais had looked, not her face, not her body. He had preserved the best part of her and made it his own: the principle of her scent: (52)

She was beautiful indeed in her fourteen years she had already possessed the first ingredient. There was no need to wait as I had done for my finale. She made me who I became. She opened my eyes that sit in the middle of my face. I saw the world in its splendor. I smelled the world in its entirety. Oh! What one could do with the distilled oils of human flesh! To capture the essence of life and control it with vengeance. Vengeance for the mother that tossed me in the garbage at birth with the remnants of the bloody umbilical cord.

Here, then, on the putrid spot in the whole kingdom, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was Born on July 17, 1738. It was the hottest days of the year: (5)

And when the final contrsctions began, she squatted down under the gutting table and there gave birth, as she had done four times before, and cut the newborn thing’s umbilical cord with her butcher knife: (6)

Ah! My mother the bitch I never knew. Only now am I privy to such information that she was the reason for my miracle. She could smell nothing and thus I smelled it all! But there’s more….Going back I remember the seven years I spent in the cave-finding myself-losing myself-in my dreams, my appetite of bugs and snakes. The revelation of my odorless, clubfooted, hunchback body.

And the awful thing was that Genouille, although he new that odor his odor, could not smell it. Virtually drowning in himself , he could not for the life of him smell himself! As this became clear to him, he gave a scream as dreadful and loud as if he were being buried alive: (164)

But this, behind that wall, was the answer to world domination! I had to own this scent…make it my own. No one ever called me mad, or crazy…they loved me. I Grenouillle the great was their Savior. The needed me. And this…. Ah! This…it was more than just a scent…but it needed to mature. This would be my final ingredient…much better than the first. So I waited and waited until the time came and thus just as the world began to sleep. I proceed to win.

With a few quick snips of his scissors, he cut open her nightgown, pulled it off, grabbed the oil linen, and tossed it over her naked body. Then he lifted her up, tugged the overhanging cloth under her, rolled her up in it as a baker rolls strudel, tucking in the corners, enveloping her toes up to brow. Only her hair still stuck out from the mummy clothes. He cut if off close to her scalp and packed it inside her nightgown, which he then tied up into a bundle. Finally he took a piece of cloth dangling free and flapped it over the shaved skull, smoothed down the overlapping ends, gently pressed it tight with his finger: (264)


I had to be gentle. This was the most crucial part. Excitement overcame me as I inhaled the most detailed parts of her scent. Her hair, her breasts, her arms, her genitals, her neck, all gave off the most alluring fragrance that I could not control myself. I would have waited forever to obtain such a scent, but I could not. This one had a father who could pull strings and if I was caught now it would be too soon and I would have failed. I had to be careful and very gentle. Twenty-five. Twenty-five. Twenty-five beautiful scents to make the fragrance of human likeness. These women had to die and I am the one who had to do it. No one expected a thing and my mind only blossomed by my brilliance… Not Baldini, not the father, Antoine Richis-second consul, not the marquis de La Taillade-Espinasse, not the nobles, the judges, or the townsmen…no one. They could not execute me when I dabbled a pinch of my potion. Yes, I committed something…but was it truly murder or was it redemption.

Yes, he was Grenoille the Great! Now it had become manifest. It was he, just as in his narcissistic fantasies of old, but now in reality. And in that moment he experienced the greatest triumph of his life. And he was terrified: (292)

Poor Druot…having to take my punishment, but who is Druot anyway….. he was strong and could handle it. They always says God only gives you what you can handle.

(Twilight Zone Music)

Patrick Suskind was born in Ambach, near Munich, in 1949. Among the bestselling novel Perfume, he also wrote a play entitled Double Bass. His other novels include The Pigeon, Mr. Summer’s Story and El Contrabajo (The Contrabass). He also co-authored the German television series Kir Royal.

A lot of his works were written in German and translated by John Woods. What I did notice was that the better reviews of his work were of those done in English. Patrick Suskind continues to live and write in Munich.

The novel Perfume has the basic standard structure of many novels. That is it goes into the life of its characters and creates an image for the reader than allows the reader to enter the world of the antagonist. Patrick Suskind’s Perfume originally published in German as Das Parfum, created this novel as his character Grenouille created his scents and embraced the emotions of human lust with such delicacy that I myself would read it again.

The Boston Globe says….it is a meditation upon irrationality and Age of Reason; upon obsession and illusion; upon solipsism and art. The sensuous supple prose moves with a pantherish grace……

The artistic nature of this novel has be waiting for the next.




























Suskind, Patrick. Perfume. Washington Square Press, 1985.

Internet. Yahoo. 2000