Artist's novel


In addition to being classified as a Bildungsroman, Patrick Süskind's Perfume: The Story of a Murderer can also be read as an Künstlerroman or artist’s novel. Strictly speaking, the genre of the "Künstlerroman" is a subcategory of the Bildungsroman. The Künstlerroman has its origins in the early Romantic period.

The artist's novel describes the life of an artist, which mainly revolves around the creation of art. An example of this is James Joyce’s novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with extraordinary abilities. He is an artist from the beginning of his life. His art is the creation of fragrances, and according to this he directs his entire life. Grenouille blanks out everything else (love, morality, friendship) and focuses unconditionally on creating a superhuman perfume.

Grenouille is distinguished from other people by his distinct sense of smell and his lack of smell and is presented as an outsider to society. In addition, his sense of sight and speech are poorly developed.

While other children learn language in their first years of life, Grenouille collects smells in his childhood and begins to classify them in his memory. This implicitly conveys that the sense of smell is more valuable and significant to Grenouille than other senses and is therefore placed higher than, for example, visual perception. 

Süskind describes the main character of his novel with partly animal-like fe...

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