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During the time when Grenouille lives--the mid-18th century--France is in the beginning stages of what is called the Bourgeois Liberal Revolution (Guerard 151).
The old feudal chaos had been put into some kind of organization, and while the aristocrats still had great power and prestige they were not the primary controllers of government.
It builds on and draws attention to the characteristic style of so many other authors (in other languages besides English) that it has been thought both highly original and a kind of plagiarism.
The degree of realism, too, varies greatly in the novel, with entirely believable and almost painfully realistic episodes (such as the sad story of Grenouille's childhood) juxtaposed with fanciful impossibilities, such as Grenouille's supernatural sense of smell.
Nor was the king, who still ruled "by divine right"--nor the church, nor the magistracies.
The bourgeoisie (the middle class, mostly consisting of merchants and artisans) had made so much money during the first half of the century that they were now in a position to dictate much of the government's policy, especially those policies which governed daily life and trade.
That the gritty realism is put next to seemingly silly fancies serves several purposes, most of all giving the story a framework of reality which makes the reader less distracted from the fantasy narrative.
Since a person like Grenouille could exist with a heightened (though perhaps not as heightened as described) sense of smell, the premise of the story has enough reality to anchor it for the reader, while making the extremities of fantasy a flourish and even a metaphor rather than integral to the plot.