'They Were Counted' by Miklós Bánffy


“They Were Counted” by Miklós Bánffy In preparation for a visit to the Hungarian countryside, pick up the first volume of Count Miklós Bánffy’s sprawling and elegiac “Transylvanian Trilogy.” Now a part of Romania, Transylvania was for centuries an autonomous Hungarian province, with a culture similar to that of regions in Hungary today. The first volume, titled “They Were Counted,” bounces between turn-of-the-century Transylvanian and Hungarian country estates — where Bánffy brings to vivid life a lost world of grand banquets, hunting parties and formal balls with gypsy bands — and Budapest, then a glamorous city of horse races and casinos, roiled by political upheavals. The printing I read runs more than 600 pages, but the intrigues, duels and ill-advised affairs kept me thoroughly engaged. Throughout the book, tremors presaging the earthquake of World War I rumble subtly underfoot.

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