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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 499

It is unclear exactly who the narrator of this book is, as he or she is never named. It could be one narrator throughout, or there could be different narrators for each section. Either way, it is interesting that the narrator(s) finds certain continuities across all four of the men whose lives and histories they investigate.

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Dr. Henry Selwyn is estranged from his wife. He seems quite sensitive and gentle, loves horses (which he rescues), and loves his garden. He remembers only one particularly fulfilling relationship he had with an alpine guide named Johannes Naegeli. He says that "never in his life, neither before nor later, did he feel as good as he did then, in the company of that man." His relationship with his wife, obviously, is strained, perhaps because of something in his history. He confesses to being homesick, and he talks about his childhood home in Lithuania. He kills himself by shooting a gun into his mouth.

Paul Bereyter is an elementary school teacher in Germany. The narrator learns from Paul's obituary that the Third Reich would not let him teach, because he was one quarter Jewish. He was an unorthodox teacher who abhorred hypocrisy in all forms. Lucy Landau, Paul's friend in later life, is the one who tells the narrator all about Paul. He eventually returned to Germany because he was, at once (according to Lucy) incredibly attached to his homeland, while, at the same time, loathed it. Lucy is convinced that Paul would have been happy to see it all destroyed, and yet he could not stay away. He seems to have felt a profound sense of conflict about this, and it, perhaps, helps to account for his suicide.

Ambros Adelwarth is the great uncle of the narrator of his section. He worked as a valet for Cosmo Solomon , the son of a wealthy Jewish banker in New York, and they may have had a sexual...

(The entire section contains 499 words.)

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