Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Zurich. Large city in northeastern Switzerland in which the Swiss painter (Heinrich) Lee lives. The Preaching Church, visible from Henry’s room, is a symbol of his Protestant upbringing with its doctrinaire religious instruction. Freethinkers who gather at the secondhand shop across from Henry’s home, stories of heterodox historical residents, and Swiss returning from long sojourns abroad provide critical perspectives.

A childhood experience playing a bit part on stage fascinates Henry by revealing the dichotomy between art and life, onstage glitter and backstage chaos. The one-room schoolhouse for the poor and the cadet training in middle school with prosperous middle class youths promote Henry’s self-reliance and social integration. Henry’s apprenticeship in an artist’s workshop, as stuffy as the old monastery it is housed in, contrasts with his training in the elegant house of an artist just returned from Rome.

Lee home

Lee home. House in which Lee lives in Zurich, the model for which is the tall, narrow house in the old quarter of Zurich where Keller himself grew up. While connecting Henry to the past, the house also lets him observe present activities of neighbors. The secret places in its dark corridors create a space for fantasy. Henry’s room, overlooking the rooftops of Zurich, contained collections of homemade toys, minerals, and small animals when he was a boy. Decorating the attic room with etchings and picturesque objects, Henry as a teenager made it his art studio. Henry associates the house with mixed feelings toward his mother, including love, guilt, and shame of family poverty and debt.

*Canton Zurich

*Canton Zurich. Northeastern province of...

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