‘He backed up against the wall, closed his eyes and flared his nostrils… he had the prescience of something extraordinary – this scent was the key for ordering all odours, one could understand nothing about odours if one did not understand this one scent, and his whole life would be bungled if he, Grenouille, did not succeed in possessing it. He had to have it, not simply in order to possess it, but for his heart to be at peace… this scent was inconceivable, indescribable, could not be categorised in any way – it really ought not to exist at all. And yet there it was as plain and splendid as day. Grenouille followed it, his fearful heart pounding, for he suspected that it was not he who followed the scent, but the scent that had captured him and was drawing him irresistibly to it… the source was a girl… For a moment he was so confused that he actually thought he had never in all his life seen anything so beautiful as this girl – although he only caught her from behind in silhouette against the candlelight… And now he smelled that this was a human being, smelled the sweat of her armpits, the oil in her hair, the fishy odour of her genitals, and smelled it all with the greatest pleasure. Her sweat smelled as fresh as the sea breeze, the tallow of her hair as sweet as nut oil, her genitals were as fragrant as the bouquet of water lilies, her skin as apricot blossoms… and the harmony of all these components yielded a perfume so rich, so balanced, so magical, that every perfume that Grenouille had smelled until now, every edifice of odours that he had so playfully created within himself, seemed at once to be utterly meaningless. A hundred thousand odours seemed worthless in the presence of this scent. This scent was the higher principle, the pattern by which the others must be ordered. It was pure beauty.’
Patrick Suskind, Perfume (1985), pp. 40-44.