In the spring of 1917, Dr. Richard Diver (Dick) was 26, and in Zurich to finish his studies. In 1914, he was an "Oxford Rhodes Scholar." He did his last year of his degree in Connecticut at John Hopkins University.
In 1916, he went to Vienna looking for Freud) and wrote what he later published in Switzerland in 1920.
This was his favorite time of life – before he knew how extraordinary people found him.
In 1917, still in Vienna, before going to Switzerland, he burned his psychology books (having dedicated them to memory) for warmth since coal was scarce.
He was still naïve of the dangers of this world as he headed for Zurich. After completing his degree, he went to Bar-sur-aube, France, for the military, but did administrative work that he didn’t like. But at least he had time to finish his book.
In 1919, he went back to Zurich, discharged from the military, and that’s where we are now in the story, 1919, in Zurich.
The narrator acknowledges that "it is confusing" to be looking at the young Dick – "the fiery, wiry, eagle-eyed, stranger," after having just seen the old one.