Dr von Leinsdorf

Outer characterisation

In “City Lovers” by Nadine Gordimer, Dr Franz-Josef von Leinsdorf is a geologist: “within the preoccupation of his work, has been research into underground water courses, but the mining company that employs him in a senior capacity is interested only in mineral discovery”. His age is unclear, as the lower half of his face is “dark and middle-aged”, while the upper half is “contradictorily young”.

Dr von Leinsdorf is a “good-looking man, in a foreign way”. His mouth is “thin and curving, and no matter how closely he shaves his beard shows like fine shot embedded in the skin around his mouth and chin”. He has deep-set eyes  and thick eyelashes and brows. He wears a dark jacket.

Inner characterisation

Dr von Leinsdorf is a man who puts emphasis on his work. He is described as a “geologist absorbed in his work–wrapped up in it”. He works every night, sometimes until midnight or later. He states that “his work was his greatest interest; it taxed his mental capacities to their limit, exercised all his concentration, and rewarded him constantly”.

He seems to be indifferent or oblivious towards the social differences he encounters in South Africa. It is stated that Dr von Leinsdorf “has no interest in the politics of the countries he works in”. He finds it difficult to know how to treat mixed-race p...

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