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"Perfume" By Patrick S Essay

1662 words - 7 pages

A Story of a Murderer - a Story of FranceIn this very essay I am going to reflect on the vivid description of historical and cutlural contents in the novel "Perfume" - the recognised masterpiece of the modern literature written by Patrick Süskind in 1984.Before focusing on the novel itself, let us look back into France, the place of the novel's events, into the XVIII century, and outline its atmosphere. At that time this country, together with the most of Europe, was coming through the Age of Enlightenment - a period of intellectual movement that proclaimed rationality and reason as a new means of thinking and building social life. A big step forward was done by science, which got rid ...view middle of the document...

DemographyAll through the XVIII century France was experiencing fast growth of population. Although it was mostly concentrated in rural areas, the "foremost exception represented Paris, which was home to about 600 000 of people by the end of the century". In connection to the demographic state of France of that time it is also interesting to notice how age was perceived. The following quotation, concerning the Grenouille's mother, demonstrates it best:"... who was young yet (she had just turned her twenty-five), and nice enough yet, and having managed to keep almost all teeth in her mouth, and also a bit of hair on head, and did not suffer from anything except podagra, and syphilis, and from slight dizziness, and hoped to live a long life, may be five or ten years...".We see, therefore, that an average citizen of Paris had a life about 30-40 years long. It can be explained, if to look at the condition of the French capital. The scene of Grenouille's birth gives a vivid picture of it - stinky, dirty, with contaminated air and water, with cemetries and cesspools close to living area, and hardly supplied with canalisation. Thus it makes clear, why the lifespan was so short - the population had poor health, vulnerable for infectious diseases.Science and communicationsThe Enlightenment intruded into every branch of science, coming from philosophy - to medicine, chemisty, biology, physics, and, as we can see from the following extract, spreaded even farther: "Since that time everywhere and all over, this fever of innovations, this unrestrained diarrhea of enterprise, this frightful rage of experimenting, this megalomania in trade, travelling and sciences arose!".As we see, the communications within and between countries also improved a lot: "Why is there such a need for multitude of new roads? What's the use of these new bridges? Why rushing through Atlantic like mad?".ReligiosityDespite the spreading of reason upon human mind of that time, the author does show that religion still had a strong impact on the society, especially on common people. Perfumer Baldini is the living picture of a typical traditionally-minded person. He is indignant at literally every change around - whether it is rejection of God's omnipotence, scientific discoveries, experiments or aroused curiousity to the world. P. Süskind marks that "every craft class prayed for its own patron: metalworkers - to St. Alosy, weavers - to St. Chrispine, gardeners - to St. Antoni, perfumers - to St. Josef".Along with Christianity, paganism was also still widely spread. The novel describes a wide variety of pagan practices: "Father Therrieu strove resolutely against superstion of common people. Sorcery and cartomancy, wearing of amulets, exorcism from the evil eye, conjuration of spirits, tricks at full moon...<...> It deeply saddened him that such pagan customs still were not extirpated after more that one-thousand-year existence of the Christian religion".In terms of development of...

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