The current classic: “The Perfume” by Patrick Süskind

Culture The current classic

Apotheosis of aerosols

As of: 5:31 p.m. | Reading time: 3 minutes

Fragrance of women: Tom Tykwer filmed “The Perfume”

Credit: picture alliance / United Archives

No other novel gives you such a dangerous cloud of fragrance as Patrick Süskind’s world bestseller “Perfume”. Neither mask nor visor nor ventilation help: you get infected anyway.

WWhen he stumbles into the room of a twelve-year-old just around half past ten in the morning – the guys rarely get up in corona times – if he has survived the olfactory adventure, he is immediately struck by two findings.

A scientific. And a literary one. Both are about scents. Mixtures of gaseous and liquid substances. And their dangers. Of aerosols.

The scientific knowledge is the confirmation of an older virology thesis that you can save yourself the laborious disinfection of surfaces in rooms if you air them properly.

If you do not do this, not only is the risk of suffocation (in the case of the twelve-year-old booth one can almost speak of a risk of asphyxiation), but also the risk of infection because viruses in aerosols stay in the air longer and survive. If the viruses stay in unventilated rooms like the exhalations of hormonally extremely confused young organisms, then good night.

Fragrance disaster of mythical proportions

The literary is in a way related to the first. It is the emerging misunderstanding about Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. This is the very strange and always young hero from Patrick Süskind’s 1985 world bestseller “The Perfume”. In a way, the novel is the apotheosis of the aerosol.

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The trigger of the postmodern fragrance disaster of mythical proportions is the deeply psychologically interesting fact that Grenouille is unable to smell, and therefore does not know himself, worse, that he – the highly gifted smell – cannot be smelled by others. Grenouille is a kind of unaerosol zone.

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Parents of twelve-year-olds might not find Grenouille’s loss fantasy so bad, but Grenouille makes it the killer of two dozen girls. It follows their aerosol trail, it takes their life and their fragrance away. Smells its victims wilted (which could possibly just be implemented with the current distance rules).

Then he removes the smell from them. Blends it with others. Make it the most powerful perfume in the world. A kind of super corona. A mixture of gaseous and liquid substances that is about as dangerous as the sneeze of a maskless corona patient in a fully occupied elevator. He makes everyone mad. Makes people into all-ripping erinny.

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Incidentally, the whole book is so full of aerosols that you can almost only turn it over with a mask and rubber gloves. It smells, smells, smells everywhere. The Paris of the Grenouille period (mid-18th century) cried out to be properly ventilated. Of course it doesn’t happen.

However, even after the third time, even after 35 years, you cannot keep your fingers off the sides. Reading fever. Perhaps you should ask the omniscient virologists how you can protect yourself against it now.


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