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Summer course 2 - August 2016 - Medium group - Lesson 4




- Mmm, you smell so exquisite! New perfume?

- I'm not wearing any perfume.

- I can feel a sweet scent coming from you. Smells divine!

- Oh no! I've just realised what it is!

- What?

- I forgot there were cherries in my bag, and I sat on them! They're all squashed!

- Oh, no… I’m sorry…

Smells - Dialogue 3 - Medium - August 2016
00:00 / 00:00

PERFUME - by Patrick Süskind

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born in Paris in 1738. His mother died on the day he was born and he never knew his father. He grew up in a children’s home, where the boss was a cold, heartless Madame Gaillard.


Jean-Baptiste had an incredible genius. He could feel smell better than any human. He could remember any smell in the world. But his heart was cruel and he didn’t love anybody. At the end of the book he uses his talent to commit horrible crimes.  


In this story Grenouille is about 14 years old and working as an apprentice (подмастерье) for a skin tanner (дубильщик), whose name is Grimal.  One day Grimal  received a big order for goatskins (большой заказ козлиных шкур) from one of the most famous Paris perfumers, Giuseppe Baldini. Grimal sent Jean-Baptiste Grenouille to deliver (доставить) them. 


Giuseppe Baldini was a hard-working but mediocre (посредственный) perfumer. He had absolutely no talent. The day when Grenouille came to him, he was trying to understand the formula of the new, fashionable perfume «Amor and Psyche», which was created by his competitor (конкурент), Pelissier. He wanted to copy the formula and make the perfume himself.


Baldini was working hour after hour trying to understand the perfume’s  formula. He was mad because he couldn’t do it and burning with envy  towards (пылал завистью к) a younger, more talented Pelissier.  At that moment Grenouille arrived at his shop.




The door bell rang. Baldini went downstairs and opened the heavy door. In the darkness there was a figure, a teenager boy carrying something over his arm. 

“What do you want?” 

“I’m from Maitre Grimal, I’m delivering the goatskins (козлиные шкуры),” said the figure and made a step forward.

By the light of his candle, Baldini could now see the boy’s face and his nervous, searching eyes. It was Grenouille.

Baldini let the boy inside. It was the first time Grenouille had ever been in a perfumery, a place in which odours are not accessories but stand at the centre of interest. Just like a musically talented child burns to see (горит желанием увидеть) an orchestra up close (совсем рядом), Grenouille was burning to get inside a perfumery.

They went inside the shop. Baldini opened the back room where soaps (мыла) were cooked, pomades stirred (мешали помады), and toilet waters blended in big-bellied bottles (смешивали в пузатых бутылочках). “Here!” he said, when they came to a large table in front of the window, “put them here!” 

Grenouille put the leather (кожи) on the table. 

“Tell your master that the goatskins (козлиные шкуры) are fine.” Baldini said. “You can go now.” 

“Yes, sir,” said Grenouille, but stood where he was, blocking the way for Baldini.

“What is it?” he asked. “Is there something else I can do for you? Well? Speak up!”

“I want to work for you, Maitre Baldini. Work for you, here in your business.” 

It was not spoken as a request, but as a demand (не как просьба, а как требование). Baldini smiled. 

“You’re a tanner’s apprentice (подмастерье дубильщика), my boy,” he said. “But I don’t need an apprentice.” 

Grenouille paid no attention to Baldini’s answer.
“You want these goatskins to smell good, Maitre Baldini?” he hissed (прошипел). You want to make this leather (кожи) which I’ve brought you smell good, don’t you?”

“Yes indeed,” answered Baldini. 

“You want them to smell of Amor and Psyche by Pelissier?”

A wave of terror swept (волна ужаса пронеслась) through Baldini’s body. How did the boy know?

“How did you ever get this absurd idea? Me? Use someone else’s perfume to…”

“You reek of it!” Grenouille hissed (прошипел). “You have it on your forehead (лоб)! And in your right pocket you have a handkerchief soaked with it (платок, пропитанный ими). It’s not very good, this Amor and Psyche, it’s a bad perfume. There’s too much bergamot and too much rosemary and not enough attar of roses (розовое масло).” 

“Aha!” Baldini said, totally surprised. Their conversation had suddenly changed from the general to the specific. “What else?” 

“Orange blossom, lime, clove, musk, jasmine, alcohol. And something that I don’t know the name of. But it’s there, you see, right there! In that bottle!” And he pointed a finger (показал пальцем) into a bottle with a greyish yellow balm (бальзам).

“Styrax?” Baldini asked. 

Grenouille nodded. “Yes. That’s in it too. Styrax.” And then he muttered (пробормотал) the word at least ten times to himself: “Styraxstyraxstyraxstyrax…”

Baldini held his candle up and thought: either he is mad, or a thief (вор), or really talented. Because the ingredients which Grenouille mentioned (упомянул), if you mixed them in the right proportions, could make the perfume Amor and Psyche. Attar of roses, clove, and styrax - it was the three ingredients which he had desperately searched for (отчаянно искал) this afternoon.

“It looks like you have a fine nose, young man,” said Baldini. “But…” 

“I have the best nose in Paris, Maitre Baldini,” Grenouille interrupted (прервал). “I know all the odours in the world, all of them, only I don’t know the names of some of them, but I can learn the names. There are not many, only a few thousand. I’ll learn them all. I’ll never forget the name of that balm, styrax, styrax, styrax…” 

“Silence!” shouted Baldini. “Do not interrupt (не прерывай) me when I’m speaking! No one knows a thousand odours by name! Of course I know,” he continued, “that Amor and Psyche consists of styrax, attar of roses, and cloves, et cetera. But it’s not enough. A perfumer” - here Baldini put up his finger - “a perfumer, however, needs more than a fine nose. He needs to decipher (расшифровать) even the most complex odours by composition and proportion! And such a nose” - and here he tapped (постучал) his nose with his finger - ”is not something everyone has, young man!”

“I have the recipe (рецепт) in my nose. Can I mix it for you, maitre, can I mix it, can I?” 

“How’s that?” asked Baldini. “How would you mix it?” 

For the first time, Grenouille spoke in a clear voice. “Why, they’re all here, all the ones you need, the scents, they’re all here, in this room,” he said, pointing (указывая) again into the darkness. “There’s attar of roses! There’s orange blossom! That’s clove! That’s rosemary, there…!”

“So, you can see in the dark, can’t you?” Baldini went on. “You not only have the best nose, but also the best eyes in Paris, don’t you? Now, if you have good ears, then open them up, because I’m telling you: you are a little thief (вор). You probably got your information at Pelissier’s. You are a spy (шпион)! And now you think you can pull the wool over my eyes (пускать мне пыль в глаза), right?”

“Give me ten minutes,” replied Grenouille boldly (смело), “and I will produce for you Amor and Psyche. Right now, right here in this room. No, maitre, give me just five minutes!” 

“Do you think I’d let you slop around (расплескивать все подряд) here in my laboratory? With scents that cost thousands of livres?” 

“Yes,” said Grenouille. 

“Bah!” Baldini shouted, letting out all the air (выпуская весь воздух) he had in him. Then he took a deep breath (глубоко вздохнул) and thought for a moment.

“Well, if you say so,” he said after a few seconds. “You can do it right now, at this very moment. But your grandiose fiasco will also be a chance for you to learn a little modesty (скромность). Come here, best nose in Paris! Come here to the table and show me what you can do.” 

Grenouille rushed to the shelves (бросился к полкам). He didn’t hear Baldini’s pompous words. He only heard his final “yes,” with the celebration of a child who finally got what he wanted. Following his nose, he grabbed (схватил) several bottles from the shelves (с полок).

“How much of Amor and Psyche shall I make for you, maitre?” Grenouille asked.  “How much do you want? How about this big bottle here?”

“No!” cried Baldini in horror - a spontaneous cry of someone who may lose his property (собственность). Then in a voice was full of irony, he continued, “Why do we need a big bottle of a perfume which neither of us respects? One third of that small bottle will do.” 

“Good,” said Grenouille. “I’m going to fill (наполнить) a third of this bottle with Amor and Psyche. But, Maitre Baldini, I will do it in my own way.” 

“As you want,” said Baldini. He knew that in this business there was no “your way” or “my way”. There was only one way – knowing the exact formula.

What happened next he did not forget it to his dying day. 

Grenouille grabbed apparently at random (хватал на первый взгляд случайным образом) essences in their flacons, opened them, smelled them for one or two seconds, splashed a bit of one bottle, a drop or two of another, a little of a third, and so on. All the instruments that perfumers use to control the process of mixing – pipette, test tube, measuing glass, spoon – he didn’t touch any of them. He looked like a child playing, a child who cooks up some horrible mixture of water, grass, and mud (грязь) – and then says that it’s soup.


Baldini watched in horror. Finally, he couldn’t do it any longer. He shouted furiously: “Stop it! That’s enough! Stop it now! Basta! Put that bottle back on the table and don’t touch anything else, do you understand, nothing else! Do you hear me? And never, ever again come to a perfumer’s shop!” 


Thus spoke Baldini. And when he was speaking, the air around him became filled with the majestic aroma of Amor and Psyche. Baldini’s face, which had been red with anger, immediately became pale (бледный). “Incredible,” he murmured (пробормотал) to himself, “by God - incredible”. It was Amor and Psyche, so exactly copied that not even Pelissier himself could understand the difference from his own product. “Incredible…” 


“It’s not a good perfume,” Grenouille said. “It was mixed very badly, this perfume. If you let me, maitre, I’ll make it better. Give me a minute and I’ll make a proper perfume out of it!”   

“Hmm, hmm, hmm,” said Baldini and nodded (кивнул). Not in agreement - he was so helpless that he could nod to anything (кивнуть на что-угодно). 


And he was nodding and murmuring “hmm, hmm, hmm,” as Grenouille began to mix away a second time, again pouring the alcohol (наливая спирт) and the essences into the mixing bottle in apparently random way(на первый взгляд случайном образом). 


After five minutes Grenouille said: “It’s all done, maitre. Now it’s a really good scent.”


“Yes, yes, fine, fine,” Baldini replied and waved him off with his hand (махнул ему, чтобы он уходил). 

“Don’t you want to test it?” Grenouille asked.  “Don’t you want to, maitre? Aren’t you going to test it?” 

“Later. I am not in the mood (не в настроении) to test at the moment… have other things to do. Go now! Come on!” 


And he picked up one of the candlesticks and went through the door into the shop. Grenouille followed him. The old man shuffled up to the doorway (шаркающей походкой направился к двери)  and opened the door to let the boy out.


“Can’t I come to work for you, maitre, can’t I?” Grenouille asked with his eyes burning. 

“I don’t know,” said Baldini. “I shall think about it. Go.” 


As Grenouille disappeared (исчез), Baldini walked back to his laboratory to smell the new perfume.


The scent was so gorgeous that tears rolled (слезы выступили) into Baldini’s eyes. The perfume was stunning. It was a symphony. And Amor and Psyche was a scratching of a lonely violin (пиликанье одинокой скрипки). Baldini closed his eyes and saw himself as a young man in the evening gardens of Naples; he saw himself in the arms of a woman with beautiful dark hair and saw the silhouette of a bouquet of roses on the window, he could feel the night wind; he could hear the song of birds and the distant (далекую) music from a harbour tavern (портовая таверна); he heard «I love you» in his ear - all at this very moment! He opened his eyes and groaned with pleasure (застонал от удовольствия). This perfume was not like any perfume he knew. It was something absolutely new. It was a new world, a magical, rich world, and Baldini felt so rich, so free, so fine… 


Suddenly peace came to his soul. Baldini’s mind became cold and calculating. He took a few small bottles and poured (налил) the new perfume into them. Then he put labels on them writing the words Night in Naples. Then he extinguished (погасил) the candles and went to bed. 


The next morning he went to Grimal and invited him for a bottle of white wine. After a glass or two he told him that he had a large order and he needed help - someone who could do simple tasks, cut leather (резать кожи) and so on. His apprentice (подмастерье) Grenouille would be okay. Baldini offered twenty livres. Twenty livres was huge money. Grimal immediately agreed. They walked to Grimal’s tannery (дубильная мастерская). Strangely enough, Grenouille was already waiting with his bundle (узелок) packed. Baldini paid the twenty livres and took him to his perfumery. He knew very well that he had just made the best deal of his life.

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