Picture of author.

Miklós Bánffy (1873–1950)

Teoksen They Were Counted tekijä

19 Works 1,214 Jäsentä 33 arvostelua 3 Favorited

About the Author


Tekijän teokset

Merkitty avainsanalla


Kanoninen nimi
Bánffy, Miklós
Virallinen nimi
Count Miklós Bánffy de Losoncz
Maa (karttaa varten)
Kolozsvár, Austria-Hungary
Budapest, Hungary
Kolozsvár, Hungary
Foreign Minister (1921-22)



2023 - 03

Me gustan los libros de austrohúngaros. Este es bastante particular, porque es específicamente de húngaros, y no unos húngaros cualquiera, sino de húngaros transilvanos, ahora diríamos que rumanos. Eso nos pone en la periferia de la periferia del Imperio y las periferias siempre son interesantes.

La descripción de una sociedad aristocrática rural a caballo entre Viena, Budapest y las fincas de caza en los confines, en la antigua Dacia, más o menos alrededor de Cluj. Los contrastes físicos y de estado de ánimo entre las diferentes localizaciones son impresionantes. Es como si, cada vez que uno de los protagonistas emprende viaje hacia el Este (y hablamos de viajes de 500 kilómetros en coche de caballos o en tren), estuviera cambiando de mundo, de idioma, de costumbres, de economía, de política.

El libro tiene dos protagonistas, ambos más o menos aristócratas: uno que ha entrado en política y de cuya mano conocemos los avatares de la anexión de Hungría por parte de Austria, los prolegómenos de la primera guerra mundial, el mundo político rumano, completamente diferente, y otro aristócrata venido a menos que es ya la decadencia, la casa que se hunde mientras el último superviviente es barrido por el juego y por el desclasamiento.

Un libro muy interesante, que habla de cosas que no conocía y que me ha permitido entrar en un mundo apasionante. A pesar de que es un tocho, me lo he leído sin respirar, abducida por las historias, los amores y las angustias de Bálint y Laszlo y por los impresionantes y variados personajes secundarios, que componen un cuadro (varios cuadros muy diferentes) difícil de olvidar. Las fiestas (numerosísimas) son de una riqueza increíble.

Me ha hecho pensar en Los europeos de Orlando Figes, donde también hay gente que viaja a lugares lejanísimos para la época y, sin embargo, parece que las distancias no existieran.

Me hace feliz haber podido entrar en contacto con un mundo que no conocía, con una novela tan alejada de lo que suelo leer. Eso abre la mente. Como es una trilogía, me quedan afortunadamente dos.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
aliciamartorell | Aug 11, 2023 |
Count Miklós Bánffy de Losoncz (1873 —1950), to give him his full name, was born to a long-established Transylvanian noble family and eventually held a number of political positions in Hungary, including that of Foreign Minister at tumultuous times in the history of the region. A veritable Renaissance man, he was an artist and stage designer, as well as the author of five plays, a novel, and several short stories. These certainly deserve a wider readership in the English-speaking world, and I am sure that this selection of stories which is being published by Pushkin Press in a translation by Len Rix (well known for his translations of Antal Szerb for the same publishing house) will go a long way towards addressing this.

I feel silly saying this, but when I started this collection whose title includes the word “Night”, written by a Transylvanian count to boot, I somehow expected this to be a collection about vampiric derring-do. Of course I was wrong, and the choice of stories reveals Bánffy’s versatility both as to choice of themes and settings. Which doesn’t mean that there isn’t space for fantasy and magic, sometimes tapping into the traditions and landscape of Transylvania. Such is the case, for instance, with the opening story Wolves, which draws an analogy between the cruelty of wolves and human greed, or Tale from a Mountain Village, a story about marital abuse with elements of folklore and superstition. One could also mention Little Borbalka and the Terrifying Safranics, about a girl who warns an outcast about a plan to murder him.

Bánffy’s choice of settings however goes well beyond the confines of the country he loved or the era he was living in. One story has as its protagonist Helen of Troy. Another – The Miraculous Tale of Gaspar Loki - speaks of a pleasure-seeking Hungarian knight at the time of the Venetian Republic. In The Emperor’s Secret, an official of the Chinese Emperor is held prisoner by the forces of Attila the Hun. There's even a futuristic sci-fi piece - The Contaminated Planet - which remains particularly relevant in our ecologically-minded times.

But most representative of Bánffy’s style is the title story. Mimi, a young and ingenuous aristocrat, arrives in an unnamed Mediterranean coastal town, accompanied by her grandmother. A stroll into the surrounding countryside is rudely interrupted by the flaring up of hostilities between rebels and rulers, and Mimi ends up being escorted by a down-and-out musician to a dubious establishment hidden in the hills. Under the light of the moon these seedy surroundings assume a mystical aura, infused with “the perfume of olive blossom, of lilac and jasmine”. Mimi falls in love and witnesses an esoteric female-only ritual, before the sun rises and reality reappears within its glare. The heady, dreamlike, Southern atmosphere of this story reminded me of the novel Journey by Moonlight, by another Hungarian, and near contemporary of Bánffy, Antal Szerb. This was a fitting conclusion to a haunting collection.

For full review, including an appendix on Banffy and the composer Bela Bartok:

… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
JosephCamilleri | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Feb 21, 2023 |
The most diffuse and disconnectedly episodic of the three volumes. Traces declining fortunes all-around, blended with a lot of straight expository prose.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
gtross | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 20, 2022 |
“How simple everything could seem if one looked only at the figures, those cold statistics that took no account of people's feelings and traditions…What of the myriad individual characteristics, passions, aspirations, triumphs and disappointments that together made one people different from another? How could anyone ignore all the different threads of experience that, over the centuries, had formed and deepened the differences that distinguished each nation?”

Published in 1934, this book covers a wide swath of Hungarian and Romanian history. It is set in 1905 in Transylvania, which was then part of Austro-Hungarian Empire and is now in Romania. Protagonist Count Balint Abády lives in castle Denestornya, his family’s estate, in the countryside near Kolozsvár. He is part of the upper class and an elected official in Parliament. He is in love with Adrienne, an unhappily married woman. His cousin, Count László Gyeroffy, is in love with the beautiful Klara Kollonich, but his habitual gambling comes between them. It is a sweeping saga of society, love, and the political situation in Austria-Hungary at the time.

There are many characters in this book, but the main storyline focuses on a few, and these few are well-developed. The pace is a bit slow at the start but becomes steady once the characters are introduced. The perspective is third person omniscient, so the reader is privy to their inner thoughts. There are many miscommunications, people out for revenge, duels, hunting parties, balls, gossip, horse races, political intrigue, servants delivering private messages, romantic liaisons, trips abroad, and ventures into rural areas where we see how people of lesser means are living. It portrays the lead-up to WWI and how warning signs were ignored, while the upper classes continued their lavish lifestyles.

This book is wonderfully written. Count Abády is a particularly well-crafted character – he lives by an honor code, wants to help the people living on his land, and struggles with his shortcomings. It is easy to picture the social gatherings – which apparently lasted all night and broke up in the early hours of the morning. It contains beautiful descriptions of the countryside.

“As Balint stood there, motionless, rapt in a new sense of delight and exaltation, seven fallow deer appeared slowly from a group of pines. They were wading knee-high through the morning haze, two does with their fawns and three young females, and if they saw Balint they did not take any notice of him but just walked quietly and sedately on until, after a few moments, they disappeared again into the shadow of the trees. Their sudden appearance in the distance in front of him, and just as sudden disappearance a moment or two later contributed strongly to Balint's sense of wonder and enchantment.”

This book would make a great mini-series. It reminded me of a Hungarian/Romanian version of Downton Abbey. It provides an opportunity to learn about the history of Transylvania in an entertaining manner without the gothic overtones normally attributed to the area. Though it is lengthy at around 700 pages, I was always anxious to pick it up.

… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
Castlelass | 13 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 30, 2022 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Arvio (tähdet)
Kuinka monen suosikki
Keskustelun kohteita

Taulukot ja kaaviot