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They Were Counted (Transylvanian Trilogy) Paperback – 7 Aug 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Arcadia Books; Tra edition (7 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190514797X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905147977
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 326,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'A genuine case of a rediscovered classic. The force of Banffy's enthusiasm produces an effect rather like that of the best Trollope novels - but coming from a past world that now seems excitingly exotic' - TLS 'Banffy is a born storyteller' - Patrick Leigh Fermor'A very romantic book set in Transylvania during the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the First World war. It's full of balls and hunting parties, snow and politics. It's totally absorbing and I'm looking forward ti reading the next two books in the trilogy' - Martha Kearney (Newsnight BBC Two, The World at One Radio 4), My Six Best Books, Daily Express'One of the most celebrated and ambitious classics of Hungarian literature' - Jan Morris'This epic Hungarian novel, absorbing both for its exploration of human nature and its study of the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire... weaves social and political themes into Banffy's powerful tale' - Daily Telegraph'A masterpiece. This very readable translation makes a wonderful book accessible to many more people' - New Statesman'My great find of the year is a reprint of the magnificent trilogy, set in pre-war Transylvania by Miklos Banffy...which stands comparison with the great Russian and French masters. Banffy vies with Tolstoy for sweep, Pasternak for romance and Tolstoy for evocation of nature; his fiction is packed with irresistible social detail and crammed with suberb characters: it is gloriously, addictively, compulsively readable' - Caroline Moor, Books of the Year, Seven

Book Description

A trilogy of significant and addictive works describing the decline of Hungary in the years before the first world war --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the first volume of the Hungarian classic, the "Transylvanian Trilogy", set in the years from 1904 to 1906. Transylvania was then a province of the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Part One opens with Count Balint Abady, a young member of the Hungarian Parliament, going to attend a large party held at the castle of a neighbouring member of the aristocracy - it will be beautifully described later - , and for the first two chapters we are swamped by the other people who attended it. I jotted down some 35 names before I gave up as new people kept on being named - a really forbidding beginning, and only the favourable reviews written by other readers on the Amazon site kept me going. At the beginning of Part Two there is a shooting party at another castle, and more than a dozen further new names are introduced. Many of these people belong to inter-related families; but, unless the reader is willing to skim over this, he will have to work out, bit by bit, even until quite late in the novel, in what way they are connected; and even then it is not always clear: family trees would have been very welcome. In my opinion the book would have been very much better if a large number of the lesser characters which throng its pages had been eliminated.

There are many passages about Hungarian politics - for example about the difficult relationship between the Hungarian and the Austrian halves of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Since 1867 the Hungarians were supposed to be equal partners, with separate governments but, to their resentment, there is a common army which they feel is controlled by the Austrians.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read the Miklos Banffy trilogy two years ago on my Kindle, and loved it so much I have been recommending it to any of my friends and family who love deep, rich, complex novels. It made such an impression on me that I recently ordered print copies of all three books, and immediately started from the beginning again. A second reading does not disappoint! The historic setting is fascinating and detailed, written by someone who was there and a part of it - a Hungarian aristocrat whose ancestral home was in Transylvania writing about the Hungarian aristocracy in Transylvania and Budapest in the ten years before the First World War, lovingly recreating the balls, the hunting parties, the life in the country, including the Romanian peasant way of life in the forests, the political struggles in the city, the gambling, duelling and drinking. One strand of the narrative is about the failure of the political class to see what was coming, and to take any interest in the changes outside the Austro-Hungarian Empire which would result in its dismemberment after 1918. Another strand is about the love affairs of the two cousins, Balint and Laszlo, at the centre of the novel, which are portrayed with real psychological depth. Banffy must have had personal knowledge of someone with a fatal addiction, and also seen at close hand someone with violent mental delusions, because he portrays these with a detail and compassion that you rarely find in novels about this period.
I recommend buying the print edition, rather than reading on Kindle, as there is a huge cast of characters and the print edition has a Who's Who at the beginning which is easy to turn back to when you lose track of them. It also has 'Then and Now' maps of Central Europe to assist modern readers place the action, but I wish it also had a Historical Note to help us through the political history of the region. (You can still enjoy the novels even if you skip some of the narrative about the political struggles.)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this because my father gave me books two and three (he had bought them for a friend who already had them). The setting is apparantly vaguely autobiographical, the nobility of Hungary and Rumania at the beginning of the 20th Century before the implosion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which was caused by the 1st World War.

We get through this book to live in a life of unbelievable splendour, huge palaces and castles, estates of thousands of hectares, affairs, unrequited love, parties where the dancing was frenetic and gave brief moments for unmarried romance, rarely ceasing before dawn. Fortunes made and lost in the Casino at cards. Duels, shooting, hunting, high politics, music. We meet glamorous countesses, princesses, even the Royal Family and learn about the world of the rich and privileged and the marriage market where, as was happening in Great Britain at this time, a long lineage and a title were traded for a handsome dowry if no marriage of equals could be found.

The cast list is quite long and the sub-plots are many which is why it is so difficult to put down because there is so much suspense and one just has to keep turning the pages to find out what is happening. The introductions by Paddy Fermor and the translators are fascinating in themselves. I considered myself fairly well read but I had no idea of quite what a magnificent lifestyle these aristocrats had. I assume that survived the First War and only came to an end with Soviet occupation but I am now absolutely hooked on the region and the wealth that existed there.

This really ranks as a superb novel, every bit as good as Tolstoy but more modern (and just as long).
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