Monday, October 24, 2005

Attractive aromas

It recently occurred to me how much I love the scent of books. Old paperbacks usually produce the best. I wonder, has anyone managed to bottle the essence of books and sell it as a perfume?

By the way, if any of my readers knows of a company that does make such a perfume or cologne, please recall that my email address is listed in my profile. Thank you.

I can often come up with an association to a literary quote for whatever happens to thread its way through my stream of consciousness. Luckily for all of you, to say nothing of people I know in real life (that includes just under a third of my readership, I think), I usually keep these to myself. But for what it's worth, this brings to mind one of the funnier moments in potions class in a certain favorite series of mine. To summarize, Hermione, eager as always to display her encyclopedic knowledge, reveals a little more than she had intended to the class.
"Excellent, excellent! Now, this one here... yes, my dear?" said Slughorn, now looking slightly bemused, as Hermione's hand punched the air again.

"It's Amortentia!"

"It is indeed. It seems almost foolish to ask," said Slughorn, who was looking mightily impressed, "but I assume you know what it does?"

"It's the most powerful love potion in the world!" said Hermione.

"Quite right! You recognized it, I suppose, by its distinctive mother-of-pearl sheen?"

"And the steam rising in characteristic spirals," said Hermione enthusiastically, "and it's supposed to smell differently to each of us, according to what attracts us, and I can smell freshly mown grass and new parchment and—"

But she turned slightly pink and did not complete the sentence.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9

If she lived in the world of Harry Potter, the teaching assistant would most likely recognize Amortentia by the scents of old paperbacks, saffron, mandarin oranges, vanilla, and peanut sauce.