They were counted by Miklós Bánffy

they were counted

They were counted by Miklós Bánffy

Hungraian fiction

Orginal Title – Megszámláltattál

Translator – Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Bánffy-Jelen

Source – Review copy

Miklós Bánffy was in his lifetime  a diplomat , MP and even foreign minister of Hungary ,at this time he signed treaties and brought Hungary into the league of nations .He published this book the first of his famous Transylvanian trilogy in the 1930’s  oh and he also designed sets and costumes and was a graphic artist .He had one daughter as well .It is her that is the co translator of this book

Though Balint realized that he would see Adrienne that evening the thought had little effect on him .It caused neither joy nor that slight irritation he had felt previously when he thought of her marriage .

early on we meet Balint and Adrienne

They were counted is set in the noble families of the Austro-Hungarian .We meet to Cousins both Counts Balint and Laszlo .Through these two we see the decline of the world around them the world war is not upon them but the early seeds of this are blowing in the wind Balint is drawn to the struggling peasants from Romanian and starts to champion the rights of the poor ,whilst his other cousin is drawn into the world of the upper class gents of the time gambling at the gaming tables .This is 1906 and the world around them is speeding up .All this set in the grand house and shooting parties of the upper class of the time .The family castle as we see Balint and Adrienne twist and turn round each other .This book fits his career as a set designer you feel he draws the world around these two in the book and we’ll get to see what happens in the following volumes .

Laszlo had taken his cousins Balint’s advice to heart .While they had been together in Vasarhely , and in the train until they had seprated at Marcos-Ludas , Balint had tried hard to make Laszlo understand the problems he would have to face now that he had chosen musci as a career , problems that would never be solved  unless Laszlo contrived to be freed of his debits .#

The cousins have their own problems Laszlo is money .

Well I kept the description brief this is a huge book and too much for a review .I was reminded of so much I ve seen before from the other side yes this is like the first series of Dowton Abbey the one before the war these cousin are like an Austro Hungarian version of the cast there is even an on/off love affair at their ancestral castle home  .I was also reminded of the film shooting party that follows an English shooting part just on the eve of world war one maybe a bit after this book is set but you get the same feel of a world in the background in flux .This book was lost til rediscovered after the fall of communism and is one of those books you’ve seen and maybe even heard of but I say you should pick it up I really can’t what to see what happens in this world in part two how does the cousins world turn out will the gambler Laszlo come a cropper ,will the socially mind Balint stay so ?There is numerous names mentioned on the cover Tolstoy ,Proust being two I ve seen in connection to this book .I felt his echoes in books b modern Hungarian writers the scope of vision remind me of Nadas ,The upper class world is also like Waugh’s world at times the manners and customs also different at times show how much these worlds had in come before they went to war on either side during world war one .

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brian Joseph
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 10:06:22

    This looks to be momentous!

    It is a bit surprising that someone with Bannfy’s background wrote successful and seemingly artful fiction. Usually folks so involved in government are not so creative.


  2. farmlanebooks
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 10:53:04

    I bought a set of Banfy books a while ago, but haven’t tried them yet. I love the sound of this one – especially the Downton Abbey reference. I’ll try it one day.


  3. Rise
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 14:29:06

    I have a copy. Who knows when I’ll finally read it. But you’ve fanned my interest.


  4. Col
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 14:36:06

    Bannfy sounds like a sort of artistic/cultural superhero – a kind of Hungarian literary version of Roy Of The Rovers! I’ve never watched Downton so that comparison doesn’t mean anything for me – but I like the film “Shooting Party” so that gives me a much better idea of the book’s feel and time. Sounds good – daunting, but good!


  5. Scott W.
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 18:15:35

    Stu – I’m so glad to see another convert! Miklós Bánffy’s trilogy is way up near the very top of my favorite works of fiction, and now that it’s finally widely available in an Everyman’s Library edition, I hope more people will get the chance to discover it. I’m no historian, but I think an argument can be made (and has been made) that the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire was one of the twentieth century’s key precipitating events. Nothing I’ve read about it has captured that decline better than Bánffy’s work, and nothing else has made it seem so immediately relevant to our own time. I rather envy your getting to read this for the first time, and I look forward to your posts on parts II and III.


  6. Richard
    Oct 02, 2013 @ 03:11:27

    I’ve had this trilogy in my house patiently waiting to be read for at least two or three years now (largely at Scott W.’s insistence!), but I keep putting it off for reasons unknown (or, really, maybe because of the size of the damn thing). Anyway, glad to hear you enjoyed this, Stu–I hope to get around to at least starting Bánffy before the end of the year. Cheers!


  7. Max Cairnduff
    Oct 02, 2013 @ 10:37:33

    I own these and am hugely looking forward to them, but it’s nice to see you forging a path Stu and reporting back that they are worth the investment of time.

    Have you read War and Peace yet Stu? I haven’t yet and I feel I should read that first.


  8. JacquiWine
    Jan 14, 2016 @ 08:14:29

    I hadn’t thought about the similarities to something like Downtown Abbey, but I see what you mean, Stu. Books two and three are well worth the investment in time – having finished the final book earlier this week, I’m feeling rather bereft now! A truly remarkable series that deserves to be better known..


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October 2013


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