26 March 1949 |
Ambach, Bavaria, Germany
|Literary movement||Magic realism|
Life and work
Süskind was born in Ambach am Starnberger See, near Munich in Germany. His father was writer and journalist Wilhelm Emanuel Süskind, who worked for the Süddeutsche Zeitung and is famous as the co-author of the well-known Aus dem Wörterbuch des Unmenschen (From the Dictionary of an Inhuman), a critical collection of essays on the language of the Nazi era. Patrick Süskind went to school in Holzhausen, a little Bavarian village. His mother worked as a sports trainer; his older brother Martin E. Süskind is also a journalist. Süskind has many relatives from the aristocracy in Württemberg, making him one of the descendants of the exegete Johann Albrecht Bengel and of the reformer Johannes Brenz. After his Abitur and his Zivildienst, he studied Medieval and Modern History at the University of Munich and in Aix-en-Provence from 1968-1974, but never graduated. Financially supported by his parents, he moved to Paris where he wrote "mainly short, unpublished fiction and longer screenplays which were not made into films."
In 1981, he had his breakthrough with the play Der Kontrabaß (The Double Bass), which was originally conceived as a radio play. In the 1984-85 theatrical season, the play was performed more than 500 times. The only role is a tragi-comical orchestral musician, who has so many problems with his instrument and his insignificance that he falls into nagging fatalism. In the 1980s, Süskind was also successful as a screenwriter for the TV productions Monaco Franze (1983) and Kir Royal (1987), among others. For his screenplay of Rossini, directed by Helmut Dietl, he won the Screenplay Prize of the German Department for Culture in 1996. He rejected other awards, like the FAZ-Literaturpreis, the Tukan-Preis, and the Gutenbergpreis.
His best-known work is the internationally acclaimed bestseller Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (1985). This was made into a film in 2006 by Tom Tykwer. Perfume was on the bestselling list of the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel for nine years. He is also the author of a novella, The Pigeon (1988), The Story of Mr. Sommer (1991), Three Stories and a Reflection (1996), and a collection of essays, On Love and Death (2006).
Süskind lives as a recluse in Munich, in Seeheim (Lake Starnberg), and in France. The public knows little about Süskind currently. He has withdrawn from the literary scene in Germany and never grants interviews or allows photos.
- Der Kontrabaß (The Double Bass) (play, 1981)
- Das Parfum (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) (novel, 1985)
- Die Taube (The Pigeon) (novella, 1988)
- Die Geschichte von Herrn Sommer (The Story of Mr Sommer) (novella, 1991)
- Drei Geschichten und eine Betrachtung (Three Stories and a Reflection) (stories, 1996)
- Das Vermächtnis des Maître Mussard (Maître Mussard's Bequest) (novella, 1996)
- Rossini (film, 1997)
- Über Liebe und Tod (On Love and Death) (essays, 2006)
A movie based on Perfume was released in 2006.
- Aus dem Wörterbuch des Unmenschen by Dolf Sternberger, Gerhard Storz & Wilhelm E. Süskind, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich, 1962
- Focus: Patrick Süskind - So flüchtig wie ein Duft
- Francke, Eckhart. "Patrick Süskind". Kritisches Lexikon zur deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur, 42. NLG, 1-8
- Delseit, Wolfgang and Drost, Ralf. Patrick Süskind. Das Parfum. Erläuterungen und Dokumente. Stuttgart: Reclam 2000.
- The Literary Encyclopedia page for Patrick Süskind
- Smee, Jess. "Critics sniffy over Perfume, the 'unfilmable' film", The Guardian, September 8, 2006.
- The book doesn't smell either": Dietmar Kammerer interviews director Tom Tykwer, at Sign and Sight, September 20, 2006 (originally appeared in German in Die Tageszeitung on September 14, 2006).
- Patrick Süskind at the Internet Movie Database