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They Were Found Wanting (1934)

av Miklós Bánffy

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

Serier: The Transylvanian Trilogy (Book 2)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1746123,384 (3.86)42
They Were Divided reflects the rapidly disintegrating course of events in central Europe on the eve of WWI. A literary masterpiece, in the foreground it tells the story of Balint and his flawed cousin, Laszlo Gyeroffy, with humor and bittersweet nostalgia for a paradise lost through folly. In the background, the sinister and fast-moving events in the Balkans eventually lead not only to a horrific war, but also to the complete dismemberment of their once-great country.… (mer)
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» Se även 42 omnämnanden

engelska (4)  spanska (2)  Alla språk (6)
Visa 1-5 av 6 (nästa | visa alla)
As in "They Were Counted", this novel manages to interweave political and personal scheming, but this time with a more singular focus on Balint. Tends to drift into melodrama at times, but ultimately it is an effective depiction of a paralyzed state as Europe prepared for war. ( )
  albertgoldfain | Nov 18, 2015 |
Retoma la historia de los dos primos transilvanos que protagonizaban Los Días Contados. En 1906, Hungría..... ( )
  pedrolopez | May 10, 2013 |
This is review of the Transylvania Trilogy, also known as The Writing of the Wall, and I am posting this in each volume. The trilogy is composed of:

They Were Counted
They Were Found Wanting
They Were Divided
.

These titles are taken from the Book of Daniel, from the Belshazzar’s Feast, when a hand appeared and wrote on the wall:

God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; your kingdom is divided and given to your enemies.

This is how Rembrandt saw this episode:




What Banffy sees in this Writing is the Advent of WWI and the end of Hungary’s Dreams.

I would like to read a good biography of Miklos Banffy. He must have been a fascinating person. From what I could learn from the web, he was originally from Transylvania and part of the nobility (a Count). He was an independent Member of the Hungarian Parliament before WWI, becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs during the first period of the Horthy Regency, when István Behtlen was Prime Minister (a relative, and also a Count). It was Banffy who signed the Peace Treaty with the US after The Great War. During his time in the Ministry his main interest was to try and renegotiate the Trianon Treaty and recover for Hungary many of the land tracts lost to its neighbors.

If a great part of his mind and ideals were in politics, his heart lived with the arts. He was a man of the theater, of music and of opera. He was Superintendent of the Budapest Opera around 1906. Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (1898), still a very modern work, features in these novels. He was a friend of Kodaly and Bartok, sponsoring the production of Bartok’s then avant-gardish opera Blubeard’s Castle (1911).

These books--which should be read all three (total of about 1400 pages)--, were written between 1934 and 1940, although the setting is the years before the First War, namely from 1905 to the Fall of 1914. The general impression upon reading is somewhat disconcerting, it feels like a nineteenth century novel, but some more modern elements sometimes creep in, contributing to the general nostalgia for a foregone age.

For me there were two threads of interest in the book. There is a plot embedded in the portrait of a society in the “realist” model tradition, but there is also a highly crafted account of the political inter relations of Hungary, Austria, Transylvania and Romania during those times.

The first thread, or the plot, develops as a family saga with elements of a Bildungsroman, with plenty of entertaining scenes of balls, dinners, shooting-parties, horses and hunts, romances, adulteries, gambling, drinking, dueling, etc. And although it is a society of rentiers, for whom money is present but should rarely be seen, there are also plenty of money issues with debts from gambling, squandering, traumatic inheritances, and situations in which exotic and magnificent pearls are being pawned to save someone’s honor. All this makes for a rich story.

The second thread is the political account. These sections almost read as a chronicle of what was going on in the Budapest parliament from 1905 until 1914. The issues at stake were: a separate Army from Austria’s; the drawing of a new Constitution based on a wider system of universal suffrage with repercussions on the representation of the minorities and consequently on the Parliamentary balance; the conspiracies of the Heir of the Crown, the much hated Archiduke Franz-Ferdinand (István Szabo’s films Colonel Redl and Sunshine come to mind); the possibility of a separate banking System from the Austrian; and the always difficult relationship with the Romanians and the Croatians, etc..

I found this second thread absolutely fascinating and unique. It has a similar value to a document, given that Banffy had been there.

It may have been this part that invited significant criticism amongst the contemporary Hungarians. For although Banffy adored his country (but was it Transylvania or Hungary?), he is bitterly critical of the Politics of Obstruction that set the pace or dynamics within that spectacular Parliament during those crucial years. Inevitably, Edward Crankshaw’ acerbic criticism of the Hungarians in his [b:The Fall of the House of Habsburg|479667|The Fall of the House of Habsburg|Edward Crankshaw|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348219557s/479667.jpg|468073] comes to mind. Banffy sadly sees his country men as hopelessly parochial, concerned only about their petty internal issues, and dangerously unaware of what was going on outside their borders (soon to be lost).

They were not seeing the Writing on the Wall.

I am surprised this work is not better known. And although in translation, it has been a pleasure to read. The English edition is the fruit of the collaboration between Banffy’s daughter Katalin Banffy-Jelen and Patrick Thursfield.

-------

The other two volumes:

[b:They Were Counted|6518523|They Were Counted (The Transylvanian Trilogy, Book 1)|Miklós Bánffy|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328694597s/6518523.jpg|696097]

[b:They Were Divided|8190367|They Were Divided (The Transylvanian Trilogy, Book 3)|Miklós Bánffy|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348054867s/8190367.jpg|1863082] ( )
1 rösta KalliopeMuse | Apr 2, 2013 |
This is the second novel of the trilogy begun with Bánffy's They Were Counted and everything I said in my review of that book is true for it as well. It takes the protagonist, Balint Abady, his cousin Laszlo, and dozens of other characters from the years 1906 through about 1909. As with the earlier volume, their stories and romances are mixed with set pieces of huge parties and hunts, politics both within Hungary and in the broader Austro-Hungarian empire, and vivid descriptions of different natural environments around the country. What comes out more strongly in this volume is the self-centeredness of Hungarian politics and the internal conflicts that blind people to the larger world outside, as well as Bánffy's goal of painting a complete portrait of a complex world that no longer existed by the time he wrote the books in the 1930s. One of Bánffy's main points throughout these novels is the impotence of the Hungarian legislature, tied up in partisan politics and obstructionist polices that ignore the good of the country. A reader in the US today can't help but see parallels to our own Congress.
4 rösta rebeccanyc | Sep 4, 2011 |
"Beneath their feet the dust of the forest floor rose as they walked, and to Adrienne it was as if they floated weightless over clouds of heavenly vapour, returning unharmed from the gates of Hell, ready no to defy the whole wide world." (p 76)

This second volume of The Transylvanian Trilogy is an historical novel with romance at its core. As Patrick Leigh Fermor, the famous travel writer, said: "Banffy is a born story-teller." But the story is merely the starting point for Banffy's extended romance of family, class and political relationships which mirrors the on-going upheaval in Hungarian society as it existed before the Great War. Banffy's novel compares favorably with epics like War and Peace and great family tales like The Forsyte Saga. I appreciated the breadth of his literary and cultural references, for this is a story about a class that is as familiar with Chopin and Goethe as they are with the boudoir. The contrast of the power and beauty of nature, descriptions of the lands and forests surrounding the magnificent castles, punctuated with scenes of hunting and brilliant bazaars, thrilled me as a reader. The trilogy is one of the least well-known novels of Eastern Europe at the end of an era limned by Barbara Tuchman with the title of her history, "The Proud Tower". ( )
  jwhenderson | Feb 15, 2011 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (6 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Miklós Bánffyprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Bánffy-Jelen, KatalinÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Leigh Fermor, PatrickInledningmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Thursfield, PatrickÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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...Y laprimera palabra ya estaba escrita sobre el encalado de la pared del palacio real: "MENÉ: Tu reino ha sido contado..."
Pero los príncipes del banquete no la vieron, sino que embriagados gritaron que sacaran del tesoro del Señor los vasos de plata y de oro que habían traído sus antepasados.
Y sacaron los vasos. Y bebieron en ellos mucho vino y se emborracharon más. 
Y dejaron perder los vasos del Señor peleando y maldiciéndose unos a otros por sus dioses de metal, de madera, de pueda y de barro.
Mientras los dedos de mano de hombre continuaron escribiendo delante del candelero sobre el encalado de la pares del palacio real. Y la segunda palabra que esculpieron fue: "TEKEL: Pesado has sido en la balanza, y fuiste hallado falto...".
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They Were Divided reflects the rapidly disintegrating course of events in central Europe on the eve of WWI. A literary masterpiece, in the foreground it tells the story of Balint and his flawed cousin, Laszlo Gyeroffy, with humor and bittersweet nostalgia for a paradise lost through folly. In the background, the sinister and fast-moving events in the Balkans eventually lead not only to a horrific war, but also to the complete dismemberment of their once-great country.

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