Biography of Patrick Suskind

Born in Ambach (near Munich) in Germany to the late Wilhelm Emanuel Süskind, a journalist and writer on language, Patrick Süskind studied medieval and modern history at the universities of Munich and Aix-en-Provence. It has been said that he originally aspired to be a concert pianist but had some problem with his hands. Süskind began his writing career as a playwright. His first play (with international success), The Double Bass (Der Kontrabass) was performed in Germany, Switzerland, Scotland, London, and New York. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer has been adapted for the screen. Süskind lives reclusively in Munich, Paris, and Montolieu, France. He has refused awards for his writing, and he is known to never grant interviews.

His fictional works, though differing in voice from each other, contain playful and even flippant "revisions of important philosophical and psychological problems" (Adams, "Patrick Suskind"). He is known for having put in his fiction recognizable barbs directed at critics. For example, a writer in his essay "Amnesie in litteris" cannot remember anything he has read, making anything he writes later completely free of a possible charge of plagiarism. This character came in response to critics "who characterized the citational style of Das Parfüm as plagiarism" (Id.).

Süskind has written for both television and film, including the film Rossini. While Perfume focuses on one character and his obsessions, Rossini is an ensemble piece involving many characters. The tone of this satire about the film industry is ironic, much as Perfume is. Süskind's play Der Kontrabass also focuses on one character, a social outcast not unlike Grenouille. This is the play which made him famous, and it is still widely performed. His other works include the novellas The Pigeon and The Story of Mr. Sommer, a collection of stories under the title Drei Geschichten und eine Betrachtung, and essays entitled On Love and Death.

Study Guides on Works by Patrick Suskind