Universitatea din Bucureşti, Facultatea de Litere University of Bucharest, Faculty of Letters
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8 / 2013
Maps of knowledge through fragrances and miasmata. Patrick Süskind’s “Perfume”
The smell has an obscure identity, which fascinates in the measure it individualizes and rejects the person, if he forces its limits. For Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the protagonist of the novel entitled “The Parfume” by Patrick Süskind, there is no object, place, man, stone, tree, bush, wall or corner he may recognize after its smell, keeping forever in memory alongside with the unique flash. Thus, the character conceives a map of knowledge through senses, being the only one possessing the coordinates. This instrument would grant him perfection, like a genie or an angel, a power stronger than gold, terror or death: the irresistible capacity to inspire love to mankind. The character’s identity would manifest plenary because the conflict between his own insignificance and the megalomania of his achievements.
Keywords: Patrick Süskind, “The Parfume”, map of senses, knowledge, the aesthetics of ugliness.
- Jean Chevalier, Alain Gheerbrant, Dicţionar de simboluri / Dictionary of symbols, vol. I & III [f.tr.], Bucureşti, Editura Artemis, 1994.
- Patrick Süskind, Parfumul / Perfume, traducere de Grete Tartler, Bucureşti, Editura Humanitas, 2005.