Which is the true first edition of Patrick Süskind’s “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”?

I recently picked up an early edition of Patrick Süskind’s “Das Parfum” in a local flea market.

The book’s dustcover features part of Antoine Watteau’s “Nymph et Satyre ou Jupiter et Antiope” and overall condition is excellent (probably unread). 

Das Parfum
Having enjoyed the English version some years ago, I thought it might be interesting to tackle the German one.  On inspection of the publication details at the front of the book, I noted the following:

Alle Rechte vorbehalten

Copyright © 1985 by

Diogenes Verlag AG Zürich

500/86/8/9

ISBN 3 257 01678 6

It struck me that being German, Süskind must have originally written the book in his mother tongue and a quick Google search confirmed this.

According to Daniel Kampa, An author “contacted Keel to ask if he would read the manuscript of his novel. The author was Patrick Süskind and the novel was Perfume. Keel planned a first edition of 50,000 copies; Süskind suggested 5,000. Neither man could have been more off track. Since 1985, the novel has sold 12,5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 38 languages. It was the turning point for Diogenes, the publishing house founded by Keel in 1952“. 

So the true first edition of “Das Parfum” was in fact a German language version published by Diogenes in 1985 and English language versions entitled “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” appeared shortly afterwards in the UK and the US.  Since then, the book has been translated into at least 46 languages (goodreads currently lists 218 different versions).

Incidentally, I’ve no idea whether my copy is a true first or not, even though the ISBN 3 257 01678 6 matches editions claimed in bookfinder to be firsts.  Perhaps the code 500/86/8/9 is a clue?

The Diaries of Admiral Arthur Hildebrand Alington – Part 1

Over twenty years ago, my late father, who was at that time a second-hand book-dealer, managed to salvage some old books which were about to be thrown away by the owner of a house in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK.

Rescued DiariesThe collection of books consisted of an incomplete series of diaries written by Admiral Arthur Hildebrand Alington (10 October, 1839 – 7 December, 1925) of Swinhope, Lincolnshire, UK and some domestic accounts and ledgers from his place of residence Swinhope House.  There is also a “Journal of HMS’s Himalaya and Peterel” and what appears to be a ship’s log (1877?):

DSCF0530

According to research carried out by the Dreadnought Project, Admiral Alington, J.P., Royal Navy, was promoted to the rank of Commander in 1870, Captain in 1879 and Rear-Admiral in 1894.  In 1895, he became Second-in-Command of the Channel Squadron and was placed on the Retired List at his own request on 13 January, 1899.  He was advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral on the Retired List on 1 January, 1901 and to the rank of Admiral on the Retired List on 16 June, 1904.

Here is a photograph taken when he was Rear-Admiral Second-in-Command of the Channel Squadron, seen with his Flag Lieutenant:

Photograph: Navy & Army Illustrated

The diaries start in 1865 and end in 1923, two years before his death.  The earlier editions contain descriptions of naval activities, the later ones are focused more on family and social activities.  This is the complete listing:

  • 1865/6, 1873, 1877, 1881, 1982/3/4, 1888, 1889
  • 1892-1923 (1919 missing)

DSCF0529The diaries contain a range of ephemera, including newspaper cuttings, images, telegrams,etc and several transcript,s of old sea shanties (e.g. the “Old Sea Song”).DSCF0532

There is a short, hand-written account of the author’s early life, which includes a description of the circumstances of his enlistment into the Royal Navy and life as a Naval Cadet aboard HMS Victory and subsequently HMS Rodney..  Here is a sketch (“My bedroom as a Middy!”), presumably in his own hand:

DSCF0527There are many more historically interesting entries, including a first-hand account of a Zeppelin raid over Swinhope in 1916 (see related report here).  There is also a very interesting British Summary Court notebook from the first part 1919. Now that these artifacts are in my possession, I intend to dig a bit deeper into the details and will report back on any items of particular interest at a later date (Part 2).

thoughts and findings in the world of books