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Novels Süskind, Patrick fragrantia
Press commentaries about "Fragrantia":


Published in 1985, the novel „Perfume – The story of a murderer“ became an international bestseller. Since Erich Maria Remarque’s „All Quiet on the Western Front“ no German book has been sold so often as the „Perfume“.  The film-version made by Tom Tykwer and Bernd Eichinger, which came on in the cinemas in Sept. 2006, has made the novel popular again. And there is a vivid discussion about the question how it is possible the complex world of fragrances described in the novel to show in a movie that is a medium limited to optical and acoustic effects.
For myself, in any case, after the first reading of the novel, it was certain: This work I would translate into Latin, or, for to speak with Süskind’s Grenouille: this diadem of fragrances I will smith, no matter what it costs!

But how? In the Latin literature nowhere is any comparable novel – even less a „postmodern“, as the literary scholars call Süskind’s novel. Novels are in Latin literature generally rare, ancient Latin novels are only three: The „Satyricon libri“ of Petronius, „The Goldes Ass“ (or „The Metamorphoses“) of Apuleius and the „Historia regis Apollonii Tyri“. And how should I all these subtle distinctions of fragrances, all these fantastic thought travels of Suskind – Grenouille’s experience of awakening as a Pinocchio on Madam Gaillard’s woodpile, the stinking hides, the everlasting wetness, the caustic acids of Grimal’s tannery, Baldini’s perfumery redundant with aromas, his vanity, his hopes and disappointments, his frauds, his funny boastful tellings when he was drinking wine in front of the alembic, the bold fragrance dreams of the odour monomaniac in the purple saloon and in the cave of the Plomb du Cantal, the grotesque theories and inventions of the whimsical Marquis de Taillade-Espinasse and his wedding with the celestial fluid on the Pic du Canigou, the murderous enfleurages of perfumer’s journeyman Jean-Baptiste, the languishing-beautyful eyes of the smart Madam Arnulfi at the sight of the profitable Essence absolue  and the  aura seminalis of Druot, her coarsely concupiscent journeyman and bedfellow, Richis’ cold and calculating commercial spirit, his rationalistic convictions, his criminal scent – and, after having snuffled Grenouille’s love perfume – his foolishly amorous bill and coo with the murderer of his daughter! – the vast orgy in the city of Grasse caused by Grenouille’s love perfume, in which the bishop with the green Geneva bands, the priest and the Masonic woman, citizens and peasants,  clerical and secular persons of all ranks and origins are put into a sensuous ecstasy, finally the cannibalistic end of the most ingenious perfumer of all times -  how should I all these bizarre landscapes of fragrance thought out by a king of fancy, all these metaphors, allegories and phantasmagorias of powerful expression created by Patrick Süskind – how should I translate them into the language of Cesar and Cicero, which is said to be rather hard-headed, even in a certain way jejune?
Nevertheless, in translating this novel, whose scene is set in 18th century, no new word creations are necessary, beside of words which were created by the author himself in the original text. Rather one can find the most words and idioms in the Latin literature already existing – if one knows the relating sources and has the necessary patience. In translating modern texts into Latin the special difficulty is that the vernacular-Latin dictionaries in no way cover completely the whole ancient vocabulary of Latin, not to speak of the vocabulary of the medieval and neolatin literature.
During a lectureship in a Far East university for two long vacations, a winter (2003/4) and a summer (2004), much time, by many good dictionaries (also dictionaries of special fields, like botanical, zoological, pharmaceutical, medical) and by a slip box whose notices originate from a thirty year long reading of Latin literature of all epochs – from Old to Neolatin – as well as by speaking and writing in the ancient language and translating into it during three decades -  matured a Latin translation of Süskind’s „Perfume“ with which – after some headache, after many tries and errors, finally I’m satisfied and I dare to affirm that by faithfullness in contents and style  it is not behind translations into modern languages. (N.Groß)

Publishing house LEO LATINUS

Original edition: Patrick Süskind, Das Parfum. Die Geschichte eines Mörders, Zürich, Diogenes Verlag, 1985

(For a detailed understanding of the vocabulary we recommend the following work available in our publishing house: Glossarium Fragrantiae)

336 pages, 11,2 x 18 cm, paperback
ISBN 978-3938905-31-9
order number: 00606 price €  32,00
Text excerpt (pdf 193 KB)
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