Jean Baptiste-Étienne Daville
Jean Baptiste-Étienne Daville (zhahn bahp-TEEST-ay-TYEHN dah-VEEL), a French consul in Travnik. As a representative of French power and civilization, Daville has the difficult task of upholding a semblance of civility in a remote Balkan town ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Caught in a constant silent struggle between the other two powers, Turkey and Austro-Hungary, he accomplishes the task adroitly but not without a price to his personal life. He writes an epic poem about Alexander the Great and adores his mentor and idol, Napoleon Bonaparte. Perhaps because of the stifling environment, but more likely because he is not exceptionally clever and gifted, he fails to develop his intellect fully and to embrace new ideas sweeping Europe. His faith in human values, however, which he saw symbolized in Napoleon, helps him to survive the fall of his idol and keep a decor of civility even when it seems out of place. After his tour of duty, he leaves Travnik battered but not defeated, saddened but not bitter, and content with a job well done.
Josef von Mitterer
Josef von Mitterer, an Austrian consul in Travnik. Daville’s counterpart, von Mitterer is made of a different fiber. Capable and efficient, with an unerring sense of purpose, and polite but unemotional, he accomplishes his task unwaveringly. Even though he realizes that Daville represents Western values similar to his own, von Mitterer seems to enjoy sparring with his French partner. Lacking the inner life and mental agility of his French partner and conditioned by his military upbringing and diplomatic vocation, he sacrifices human qualities to his sense of...
(The entire section is 726 words.)