Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

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...

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The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Many characters parade through the novel, as befits a chronicle of turbulent, even if peripheral, events in history, the Napoleonic wars. Many of the characters, though masterfully sketched, remain sketches nevertheless, serving only to highlight the protagonists. Among the main characters are the two consuls and the three viziers.

Daville is a typical representative of the French power and culture of the times. Well educated, thoroughly civilized, and professionally trained, he does his job well, within the limitations imposed by circumstances. He also serves as a striking foil to the world in which he finds himself. Amid illiteracy and backwardness, he writes an epic poem about Alexander the Great, thus retaining a civilized decorum even when it seems out of place. He also keeps a polite demeanor even when most people around him either lose theirs or never had it. Not exceptionally clever or gifted, he nevertheless reaches the level of competence without losing the human touch that is often lacking among his cohabitants. At the same time, he is often unable to cope with the strange world, because he lacks temperament and strong individuality. He is therefore lonely, melancholy, and constantly worried. It is his faith in human values exemplified, in his opinion, by Napoleon, that enables him to survive even after the demise of his idol. In this sense, he is also a victim of his faith and ideals, yet he shows no regrets, resigning himself to his destiny. Lacking the religious fervor of his wife and the expediency and practicality of his younger assistant des Fosses, he seems to be ill-suited for the changes around him and certainly for the strange...

(The entire section is 680 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Cooper, Henry R., Jr. “The Image of Bosnia in the Fiction of Ivo Andri,” in Serbian Studies. III (1984/1985), pp. 83-105.

Dzadzic, Petar. Ivo Andri, 1960.

Ferguson, Alan. “Public and Private Worlds in Travnik Chronicle,” in The Modern Language Review. LXX (1975), pp. 830-838.

Goy, Edward D. “The Work of Ivo Andri,” in Slavonic and East European Review. XLI (1963), pp. 301-326.

Kadic, Ante. “The French in The Chronicle of Travnik,” in California Slavic Studies. I (1960), pp. 134-169.