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They Were Counted (1934)

av Miklós Bánffy

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

Serier: The Transylvanian Trilogy (Book 1)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4941137,608 (3.87)90
Shooting parties in great country houses, turbulent scenes in parliament and the luxury life in Budapest provide the backdrop for this gripping, prescient novel, forming a chilling indictment of upper-class frivolity and political folly in which good manners cloak indifference and brutality. Abady becomes aware of the plight of a group of Romanian mountain peasants and champions their cause, while Gyeroffy dissipates his resources at the gaming tables, mirroring the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire itself.… (mer)
  1. 10
    Between the Woods and the Water av Patrick Leigh Fermor (Lirmac)
    Lirmac: Patrick Leigh Fermor walks through much of the same terrain and meets similar characters to those found in Bánffy's great work.
  2. 10
    Krig och fred av Leo Tolstoy (WirSindAlive)
    WirSindAlive: Both works share the thrilling stories in a the historical setting of the hight aristocracy, mixed with some political background.
  3. 00
    Buddenbrooks : en familjs förfall av Thomas Mann (WirSindAlive)
    WirSindAlive: Both books give us an interesting and detailed insight in the life of the social upper layer, to which both authors also belonged.
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Visa 1-5 av 11 (nästa | visa alla)
The Transylvanian Trilogy isn’t what you think it is. Assuming you were thinking it involved vampires.

It’s natural that you might suppose so. The one thing everyone knows about Transylvania is that it’s the home of Bram Stoker’s fictional Count Dracula. Most also know that it’s an actual territory in Romania. That’s true now, and has been for many decades, but it’s not the whole story. We tend, or at least I do, to get stuck on a concept of world geography that was formed by the globes and maps that we used in elementary school, and think of those borders as more or less permanently fixed. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course.

But I’m not here to talk about my general ignorance, just one example of it. Or rather, one former example of it. Through an informal program of reading where one book leads accidentally to another, I have lately been traveling down the Danube into central and eastern European history, and I’ve learned a lot about Transylvania. Did you know that this region was for a thousand years, from the turn of the first millennium to the early 20th century, an essential part of Hungary? The trans-sylvan “land beyond the forest” was wide and wild, and its residents were seen as more rugged and authentic than those closer to the capital city of Budapest–it seems to have occupied much the same place in the Magyar imagination that the American West does in ours. The handing over of Transylvania to Romania in the aftermath of World War I was a devastating blow.

That national calamity is what Miklós Bánffy slowly, deliciously works his way toward in his sweeping trilogy. The individual volumes borrow their titles from the famous writing on the wall in the biblical book of Daniel, a prophecy about the collapse of a legendary kingdom–They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting, They Were Divided–and together they describe the decline of a fascinating real place.

The story begins as a young nobleman (a Bánffy stand-in) returns from diplomatic service abroad and is flung back into the social and political Hungarian swirl. Tempted by selfish interests but dedicated to the betterment of his society, he charts a course toward the future, beset on all sides by frivolity and obliviousness. Old ladies gossip and young ladies angle to win marital competitions while generals compare mustaches and bicker pettily about their junior status in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, all unaware that their lives are about to turn upside down.

Though written in the 1930s, the trilogy is both in style and substance the last of the great 19th-century novels, grand and stately and ambitious and utterly immersive. The characters, including the upright Count Abady, the captivating Adrienne with her “flame-colored shift,” and the doomed artist Laszlo, are playthings of their omniscient author but also fully dimensional, and the set pieces they occupy will not soon be forgotten by anyone with the leisure to read them. Hunting parties, parliamentary debates, duels, intrigues, stolen moments of romance, midnight sledge rides through the snow … it’s positively sumptuous. The lush surface enraptures, but there’s also an underlying seriousness that appeals, an insistent moral drumbeat that asks What Is the Right Way to Live? There’s simply too much to this epic to do it proper justice here, so I’ll just flippantly call it a cross between Gone with the Wind and War and Peace with an added dash of paprika.
2 rösta lucienspringer | Sep 11, 2016 |
They Were Counted is the first of three books in The Transylvanian Trilogy. Set in the early 1900s, it is a sprawling tale of a time and place in history, told through the lives of two young men: Balint Abady, a new member of parliament, and his cousin Laszlo Gyeroffy, a musician. Balint is clearly of a higher class and moves easily through the myriad of balls and dinners common to his social circle. He also is responsible for significant land holdings long owned by his family. He and Laszlo are long-time friends, but it’s clear Laszlo is a peg or two down the society ladder; he’s present at many of the same balls but lacks Balint’s financial resources and political influence.

Balint is very much in love with Adrienne, who is locked in an unhappy marriage. Balint quickly uncovers scars from the marriage that have made her unable to experience passion. He visits Adrienne regularly, intent on both expressing his love and helping her to once again feel what it means to love and be loved. Laszlo, meanwhile, has made a name for himself at court. He is in charge of the dancing at all of the balls, directing the musicians and keeping things moving for the guests. Laszlo also gets involved in romantic relationships, but early on he is knocked back when the family of the woman he loves rejects him. He turns to gambling to satisfy some underlying need, which has serious consequences not only for Laszlo but for many others in his circle.

Balint’s role in parliament is used as a device to cover important moments in Transylvanian history. These sections weren’t as interesting to me as those focused on high society in that period, but since I know next to nothing about this time and place, it was worthwhile to gain some historical context. [They Were Counted] was an interesting book; I was never completely “hooked,” but whenever I sat down to read I enjoyed it very much. ( )
2 rösta lauralkeet | Jan 30, 2016 |
This is an enjoyable read for those who like Tolstoy or Joseph Roth, especially the latter as it covers some of the same ground -- the waning days of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The locales are not limited to Transylvania, but most of the action and descriptive prose are focused thereabouts. It pretty much leaves you hanging at the end; there are major plot lines that have yet to be resolved, so I guess I'll have to continue reading the trilogy.

I first came across this writer when researching the homeland of my maternal grandparents, who both grew up near Sibiu, which in those days was called Hermannstadt. Since they both emigrated in their late teens just a couple of years after the time frame in which the trilogy takes place, I thought it might give me some additional insights into what life there was like for them as Romanian peasants. And this book was marvelous in its descriptions of the landscape and the people living there.

Now that I have finished this part of the story, I am struck by how much the world in general has changed since 1905. (To be fair, life in many parts of Transylvania is not terribly different than it was then. This part of Romania remains an agrarian backwater that has few opportunities to export food or other products.) The world my grandparents lived in is starting to disappear, but books like this tell us what it was like when they were children, which I find priceless. An author cannot know how his/her writing may affect a reader in ways that the author could not possibly anticipate. This book (and most likely the entire trilogy) is destined for classic status in the Hungarian canon.

One caveat: the Arcadia Press edition of this book has numerous typos, and the translators at times have awkward sentence constructs. Try the Everyman's Library version instead. ( )
  nog | Mar 4, 2015 |
The Transylvanian "War and Peace". Banffy somehow infuses Hungarian politics and banking with as much excitement as the hunting, gambling, and love scenes throughout. The alternating focus on the two cousins does not slow the momentum. The characters are all over dramatized and rigid but still come across as genuine. ( )
  albertgoldfain | Jan 3, 2015 |
En los alboresdel sglo XX en Hungria, sesucedenlas convulsiones políticas: el difícil equilibrio de la Monarquía Austrohúngara se resquebraga, la inestabilidad política está llevando al país al colapso y la aristocracia comienza aevidenciarsu incapacidad para gobernar. ( )
  pedrolopez | May 10, 2013 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (4 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Miklós Bánffyprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Bánffy-Jelen, KatalinÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Leigh Fermor, PatrickFörordmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Thursfield, PatrickInledningmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Thursfield, PatrickÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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... El rey dio un gran banquete a mil de sus príncipes; bebieras vino, alabaron a sus dioses de oro, plata, de metal, de hierro, de madera y de piedra; y se burlaron los unos de los otros, y discutieron por los dioses de cada uno.
   En aquella misma hora  aparecieron unos dedos de mano de hombre que escribieron delante del candelabro, sobre el yeso de la pared del palacio real. Y la palabra que escribieron fue "Mené: Tu reino ha sido contado...". Pero nadie ció la escritura porque estaban embriagados por el vino y la ira, y porque estaban peleándose por sus dioses de oro, de plata, de metal, de hierro, de madera y de piedra...
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The radiant afternoon sunlight of early September was so brilliant that it still seemed like summer.
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Shooting parties in great country houses, turbulent scenes in parliament and the luxury life in Budapest provide the backdrop for this gripping, prescient novel, forming a chilling indictment of upper-class frivolity and political folly in which good manners cloak indifference and brutality. Abady becomes aware of the plight of a group of Romanian mountain peasants and champions their cause, while Gyeroffy dissipates his resources at the gaming tables, mirroring the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire itself.

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