November 5, 2006

Perfume, the Story of a Murderer

I think all the perfumistas are looking forward to the release of the movie in December. In anticipation, I just re-read the book, after having read it a long time ago when it first came out (1986ish) and reading it now after having developed more connection and interest in perfume itself made for a very different and more dimensional experience. The descriptions of the methods and craft of perfume making and the materials and components were far more meaningful this time, after having more exposure to a much wider range of perfumes and their raw materials. The attraction and dimensional quality of odor and the co-relation of fragrance to personality and emotion, or the depiction of the soulfulness of a blend in combination with an individual's skin, and the actual consciousness of the smell of each thing in the world became the foreground of the book for me. The alienation of the anti-hero was complete, becoming psychopathic, but his ability to discern and memorize all smells that ever came his way gave his experience a powerful focus that lifted him above the terrible circumstances of his condition in life, even though it could not complete the connection of an emotionally crippled genius to people or society, which while cruel and indifferent to him was also the only life there was to experience. The historical details are beautifully crafted. The cruelty and love for beauty of the age directly produces the cruelty and love for beauty of the anti-hero. As it happens, the book had a huge effect on Kurt Cobain, who thereby developed an interest in perfume, and always kept a copy with him and wrote a song about it, having a great identification with the alienation and talent of the antihero.
Above, current cover of the trade paperback, available from Amazon.

3 comments:

Beauty Chick said...

I, too, read the book a decade-plus ago. I can't wait for this movie to come out.

sariah said...

Hi Lucy,

How interesting about Curt Cobain, thanks for the info. I will have to check out that song.

Lucy said...

Yes, it will be really great to finally get to see the film, there has been so much written about it, and the previews look very good. I was also surprised and how much the book influenced Cobain, that was unexpected, to find that out...