Over the course of my trip I read 5 books selected to go along with the places I was visiting. While traveling through France, I read Perfume: The Story of a Murderer; which was set in the slums of eighteenth-century Paris. It was creepy, very strange, slightly disturbing but very passionate, tragic and beautifully written. and while in the French Riviera I was able to visit the Fragonard factory, one of the oldest parfumeries in the world (I believe) that happened to be playing the movie version of the book (lol).

Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:

He drank in the aroma, he drowned in it, impregnating himself through his
innermost pores, until he became wood himself;
he lay on the cord of wood like a
wooden puppet, like Pinocchio, as if dead, until after a long while, perhaps a
half hour or more, he gagged up the word “wood.” He vomited the word up, as if
he were filled with wood to his ears, as if buried in wood to his neck, as if
his stomach, his gorge, his nose were spilling over with wood.”

“Or why should smoke possess only the name “smoke,” when from minute to
minute, second to second, the amalgam of hundreds of odors mixed iridescently
into ever new and changing unities as the smoke rose from the fire … or why
should earth, landscape, air—each filled at every step and every breath with yet
another odor and thus animated with another identity—still be designated by just
those three coarse words. All these grotesque incongruities between the richness
of the world perceivable by smell and the poverty of language were enough for
the lad Grenouille to doubt if language made any sense at all.”

“And what was more, he even knew how by sheer imagination to arrange new
combinations of them, to the point where he created odors that did not exist in
the real world.”

“Perhaps the closest analogy to his talent is the musical wunderkind, who has
heard his way inside melodies and harmonies to the alphabet of individual tones
and now composes completely new melodies and harmonies all on his own. With the
one difference, however, that the alphabet of odors is incomparably larger and
more nuanced than that of tones; and with the additional difference that the
creative activity of Grenouille the wunderkind took place only inside him and
could be perceived by no one other than himself.

“He was not out to make his fortune with his art; he didn’t even want to live
from it if he could find another way to make a living. He wanted to empty
himself of his innermost being, of nothing less than his innermost being, which
he considered more wonderful than anything else the world had to offer.
And thus
Baldini’s conditions were no conditions at all for Grenouille.”

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