Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 268
The principal characters in Austerlitz are:
—Jacques Austerlitz. He is a man born in Prague, Czech Republic (at that time Czechoslovakia) in the 1930s to Jewish parents and at the age of 4 transported, with other children, by train and ferry to the U.K. He is taken into a foster home in Wales and until the age of about twelve does not know his real name. As an adult he travels to Central Europe and rediscovers his past.
—Agata, Austerlitz's mother. She is an opera singer. During the Holocaust she is first sent to the ghetto city of Theresienstadt and then deported to one of the death camps.
—Maximilian, Austerlitz's father. He is a political activist. Though escaping to France he is later arrested and sent to the concentration camp of Gurs in the Pyrenees.
—Vera, the neighbor in Prague who was Austerlitz's nanny and with whom he reconnects when he returns to Prague as an adult.
—Emyr and Gwendolyn Elias, Austerlitz's foster parents. Emyr is a former missionary and is a Calvinist minister.
—Penrith-Smith, the headmaster at the Stower Grange School Austerlitz attends, who first reveals to him his true name.
—Andre Hilary, the teacher at school who makes probably the greatest impression upon Austerlitz.
—The narrator, to whom Austerlitz narrates his life story. The two first meet in the late 1960s but it is not until nearly thirty years later that Austerlitz learns about his background and recounts it. In some ways the narrator seems almost a mental twin of Austerlitz, having the same intellectual concerns and interest in detail regarding architecture and various other subjects.
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