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Perfume, by Patrick Süskind

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  • Perfume, by Patrick Süskind

    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Sأ¼skind

    Just finished this book last night and I must say it's one of the best fiction narratives I have ever read. Unique, to say the least, and so engrossing. Even translated into English from its original German, the story reads fluidly and brilliantly. I can't say enough about how great this book is.

    I was thrilled to find out that filming has begun on a movie adaptation starring Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman! (But can a film do this remarkable story justice? It will be a difficult task, I think.)

    Has anyone else read Sأ¼skind's Perfume? I know mord and LSN have. What do you think of it? Was it an incredible read or what!?
    "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
    --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

  • #2
    PWV - read through a few sample pages on amazon, great stuff, will look for it locally before resorting to ordering, thanks for the hard sell, :)

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    • #3
      You won't regret it, Talisant. I'm telling everyone I know about this book.

      BTW, I got the 1986 paperback version on eBay pretty cheap though I'm sure there are plenty of copies in used bookstores as it was a huge seller in its day.

      The ending is quite remarkable and not anywhere near what you might expect.
      "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
      --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

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      • #4
        Re: Perfume, by Patrick Sأ¼skind

        Originally posted by PsychicWarVeteran
        ...the story reads fluidly and brilliantly.
        I should add that the wording is flowery, but it's well-written and fits the period in which the story is set. Also, there are some run-on sentences (which I'm told can be an occasional hazard going from German to English) but they don't, in my opinion, fragment the flow of the narrative at all.
        "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
        --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

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        • #5
          I didn't think the sentences were so much "run-on" as simply modern. A lot of modern prose attempts to capture the flow of consciousness and the connection between ideas and thoughts by eliding the separations between clauses or sentence-units.

          If you want to see literary run-on sentences, check out Faulkner. Or Samuel Beckett.

          The concept of the run-on sentence is more firmly entrenched in English prose rules than in a lot of other languages. French often (and quite within the rules) makes use of literary maneuvers that in American English would be called a "comma splice." My daughter (who went to the French Embassy school until she entered high school) learned about this difference between the languages the hard way in high school English classes. A literal, mechanical translation from French-to-English can produced comma-spliced run-on sentences quite easily.

          German doesn't seem to me as prone to do this as French does. Of course, the structure + word order of the language is quite a bit different from English, and it might lead to run-on sentences (in English) due to the complexity of the original.

          LSN

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          • #6
            Originally posted by L_Stearns_Newburg
            ...the structure + word order of the [German] language is quite a bit different from English, and it might lead to run-on sentences (in English) due to the complexity of the original.
            Yes. That is how it was explained to me by a coworker who is fluent in German.
            "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
            --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

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            • #7
              I should check out my copy of Das Parfum: Die Geschichte Eines Morders again and see if I can find anything that might be a source of rhetorical oddness. I don't remember there being any, but it has been a number of years since I read it.

              I recall thinking that the translation (by John E. Woods, if memory serves) was quite good, and don't remember anything that I could characterize as a solecism.

              (And trust me, technical problems with the prose can make me meshugge. I've been known to keep running estimates of the frequency of split infinitives per page. Don't do this with Thomas Hardy. )

              Woods is an excellent translator in general, so I have reason to doubt he introduced a feature that wasn't in the original prose. It leads me back to my original suspicion that the run-ons you encountered *might* have been intentional literary devices.

              LSN

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              • #8
                Originally posted by L_Stearns_Newburg
                I should check out my copy of Das Parfum: Die Geschichte Eines Morders again...
                I noted, also, that the French title is Le Parfum and I have to say that had they added a "The" to the front of the English version, the title would have been much more poignant (and accurate). I mean, it wasn't a book about just any perfume, but about Grenouille's desire for the one perfume of all.

                Originally posted by L_Stearns_Newburg
                I... don't remember anything that I could characterize as a solecism.
                I didn't mean to imply there was any overt solecism; one can have a perfectly grammatical run-on. I just meant that it contained a lot of very long sentences. That's why I mentioned that they don't affect the narrative: because they're quite well-crafted sentences.
                "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
                --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

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