Exploring scents in literature at the British Library: 27th of March 2018

Door through a wall of books

Writing good descriptions of smell is hard. Not reducing it to a list of adjectives is tougher than it seems. In almost all languages, vocabulary around smell is lacking.

Additionally, when authors include descriptions of smell in their works, often the smell signifies something else – acts as a trope. Sometimes it is part of magical realism; sometimes an attempt at conjuring a visceral scene; there are many more example of non-literal or multilayered uses of scent.

Literary translator and scent enthusiast Marta Dziurosz invited me to a panel discussion on translating scent a while ago, and we had a really interesting evening around the topic at London’s Free Word Centre. What I didn’t know until I met her and we got talking was that she’d done her MA on scents in literature. Well! That set the cogs turning – I immediately thought it would be extremely cool to do a talk around that, AND have some fragrances created to go along with it.

So, two years later, we’ve done just that.

Come along and see us at the British Library on Tuesday 27th of March.

Perfumers Tim Gage from CPL Aromas and Achille Riviello from Nactis Synarome will join us with their creations which we first presented to the British Society of Perfumers One Day Symposium last year. I am extremely happy that we got to work with such creative individuals, both with a highly individual take on their chosen literary quote which acted as the perfumery brief.

I have also created a fragrance to go along with a third quote – you’ll have to wait until the evening to find out what that was.

Hope to see some of you next week!

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4 thoughts on “Exploring scents in literature at the British Library: 27th of March 2018

    • We were thinking about filming it – not sure if we can (but will check with the BL if they’ll permit it). We will publish a reading and smelling list afterwards so that’s something at least!

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