Quotes on scent

What writers & others say

Quotes on scent


“Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines, hidden under the weedy mass of many years and experiences. Hit a tripwire of smell, and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.”
— Diane Ackerman, author, A Natural History of the Senses

“Claire had read that the portion of the brain responsible for processing smells was one of the more primitive parts, making it in the sense that aroused the most emotions.

“The same article had talked about what smells people associated with their childhoods, saying that people over fifty associated being a kid with natural scents, like bread baking or the sweetish smell of manure, while anyone younger than fifty thought of childhood when they smelled artificial smells, like the scent of crayons or Play-Doh.

“For Claire, it happened when she smelled a particular kind of cheap plastic — a reminder of a doll that had miraculously materialized under the Christmas tree straight from the pages of the Sears Wish Book. Or sometimes at work when she ripped open a freshly printed pack of forms she would be back in fifth grade again, sniffing the milky scent of mimeograph paper.”

— April Henry, novelist, in Circles of Confusion

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived,” she wrote.
— Helen Keller, deaf-and-blind author and activist

“The best writers are writers with highly cultivated senses. They revel in touch, taste and smell. They look intently at the world around them. They sense the rhythms of language. They are insatiably curious.”
— James J. Kilpatrick, journalist and author of The Writer’s Art

Quotes on scent


“Good reporters have a nose for news. They can sniff out a story. Smell a scandal. Give them a whiff of corruption and they’ll root it out like a pig diving for truffles. If that’s true, why do so few of them take advantage of that olfactory skill in their writing?”
— Chip Scanlan, senior faculty-writing at The Poynter Institute

“Write with the senses, editors and writing teachers implore. And most of us do that, providing our readers with vivid images and resonant sounds. But hunt high and low in today’s newspaper for a sense of smell and most days you’ll come up as empty as a bloodhound who’s lost the scent. Even the food pages, which one would expect to be as aromatic as a bakery before dawn, are generally odorless. Tastes abound, but smells, the scents that get the salivary juices running, are absent.”
— Chip Scanlan, senior faculty-writing at The Poynter Institute

“Smell may be the most evocative of the five senses, but I defy you to find any in news stories, even the food pages.”
— Chip Scanlan, senior faculty-writing, The Poynter Institute

“Neuroscience is the hottest topic in the academic world today. … [O]ne of the things they’re studying is the sense of smell — the Proust effect. You’ll remember — we’ve all read our Proust — that there’s this great passage in which the aroma of madeleines, these little rich cakes that they love in France, evokes this torrent of memory in Proust. And, as we all know, there’s no sense that reaches more deeply and suddenly into our emotional center — right into the solar plexus — than the sense of smell.”
— Tom Wolfe, one of the creators of New Journalism, speaking at the annual dinner of the Olfactory Research Fund

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