Anatol Ludwig Stiller
Anatol Ludwig Stiller (AN-ah-tohl LEWT-vihg SHTIH-lehr), a sculptor. The novel begins when the protagonist returns to Switzerland after a seven-year disappearance. He claims to be an American, James Larkin White, but is thought to be a missing Zurich artist, Anatol Ludwig Stiller. On the request of his defense counsel, Stiller writes seven notebooks recording his life. As a young man, Stiller fought in the Spanish Civil War, but he believes himself to have acted in a cowardly manner. He wants to be someone he is not and is plagued by an uncertain sense of identity and an inability to accept himself. He is imaginative, insecure, talkative, capricious, and charming. He and his cronies spent countless hours discussing art, but the art he produces is mediocre. His greatest challenge is his marriage to the dancer Julika, a doll-like and aloof woman whose distance and reserve he fails to broach. After a brief affair with Sibylle, he flees to America to begin a new life, but seven years later he returns to Switzerland and reluctantly accepts his old identity. He and Julika move to a farmhouse, where he works as a potter. Two years later, Julika dies, and Stiller lives quietly and alone in the countryside.
Julika Stiller-Tschudy (YEW-lih-kah SHTIH-lehr-TSHEW-dee), a ballet dancer and Stiller’s wife. Julika has the lithe and trained body of a dancer, more boyish in its impression than womanly. She is coolly beautiful, with “bluish-green eyes like the edges of colorless window-glass.” Her lips are rather thin, and her plucked eyebrows give her a perpetually surprised expression. She has luxurious red hair and an alabaster complexion. She values her dancing,...
(The entire section is 785 words.)