*Cerenza. Village on the River Neto, near the larger town of Cosenza, in southern Italy. Although the novel situates Cerenza in the region of Calabria, at the tip of Italy’s “boot,” Cerenza actually belongs to the region of Basilicata, north of Calabria. There, the flooding of the Neto briefly brings together the hero and the fictional publisher of Adolphe’s journal, whose comments on it open and close the novel. Adolphe’s other travels—and especially his indifference to his enforced stay in Cerenza—suggest a restless, even wasted life. The publisher comments on this in the final lines of the novel, noting the inability of people to make themselves “any better by a change of scene.” This and similar reflections make Adolphe’s various moves in the story a symptom more of his conflicts and aimlessness than of the kind of cosmopolitan ease evidenced in Benjamin Constant’s own sojourns throughout Europe.
*Göttingen. City in central Germany on the Leine River, where Adolphe’s first-person narrative opens at the time of his graduation from the University of Göttingen—the only specific German location mentioned in the novel. It is unclear where Adolphe lived earlier, since he identifies his father only as minister to a German prince. Constant himself attended the university at Erlangen in southeastern Germany; he may have chosen to use Göttingen in his novel because he lived there with his wife from 1811 to 1813.
D——. Small, unnamed German town near Göttingen in which Adolphe takes up residence after leaving Göttingen, instead of accepting his father’s offer to...
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