Dear, Redolent Reader
by, 27th August 2012 at 10:02 PM (2126 Views)
Scent as mood/focus for reading really adds something to the experience. As much as pop science touts the scent-memory connection perennially, everyday experience suggests smells and their associations are inextricable. Marcel had his madeleine cookie (taste + smell + texture). Lavender is often recommended to foster vivid dreams. Sage is supposed to be good for studying. Carnation is the "poet's flower."
Reminded of my intention to come up with a few fun, maybe sometimes literal or period accurate "read while wearing" combos by Jujy and Whitefluffy's excellent ideas for associating novels with certain scents to wear while reading on the Weil Sample pass, I did a fast brainstorm.
I went only with my favorite classic, well-known novels:
1. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, is quite 1960s in atmosphere. Being as it is a fictionally-authored epic poem as introduced and annotated by a fictional critic/academic, something of multiple realities and a meta-sensibility, a changeibility would have to be inherent in the scent worn while reading. Supernatural, awe-inspiring images vie with basic humanity throughout, so I'd say Onda by Vero Profumo is up to the heavy, fiery, strange task. But if I was going to go time and gender appropriate for Pale Fire - Habit Rouge.
2. And if we're mentioning Nabokov, we have to talk about Lolita, which the obvious and time-appropriate joke would be Youth Dew. More likely Ambush would fit Lo, Shalimar for Charlotte, and 3eme Homme for Humbert, but this is more about what to wear while reading than what characters would wear, I suppose ...
3. Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor White Shoulders for the drugstore Southern shamelessness of it all layered with a CDG incense for tongue-in-cheek religion. Tabu also seems (in)appropriate as does Djedi for the Egyptian artifact associations.
4. The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers ... Southern Gothic but tender. O'Connor famously said McCullers' freaks weren't really freaks. Well, no, because McCullers actually felt sympathy for even her most ridiculous characters, tackled real issues and wasn't entirely dedicated to the grotesque. Any scent conducive to reading McCullers would have to be a little melancholy but soft, wise, and compassionate. The more common, well-loved Nina Riccis come to mind there. Agua Florida/Florida Water is mentioned and worn by Alice in the book.
5. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh ... Jicky, Mitsouko, Acqua di Parma for when Sebastian and Charles go on holiday in Italy, Tabac Blond or another beautiful, bold classic Caron for my favorite character in all of literature, as flawlessly portrayed for television below with an inspired stutter: Anthony Blanche. . .
6. Moby Dick by Herman Melville, ambergris, as derived from whales, is discussed for a chapter or more and no irony is lost on its dual nastiness/elegance, so those Creed fragrances that contain it would be okay but might clash with the book's mood. Balmain's non-ambergris containing Ambre Gris might be a clever alternative, as it also has some non-calone marine vibes.
7. American Pastoral by Phillip Roth - Histoires de Parfums 1969 fits the rebellion-meets-familiarity of the novel. The main character Seymour "Swede" owns a glove factory, so something leathery from Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier.
8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë Aromatics Elixir for swamps and moss layered with Tea Rose. Heathcliff is classic Habit Rouge.
And there's many more I have to think about. How about what would go best with your favorite classics?: perfume first or novel first, doesn't matter ...
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