Debra's Reviews > They Were Divided

They Were Divided by Miklós Bánffy
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Apr 29, 08

Read in January, 2008

This book is the first in the Trilogy Banffy wrote about his native Transylvania, the 'land across the forest' so different from the Dracula legends. It is a profound and wonderful work that follows the character of Balint as he reckons with the changes in city (Budapest) and countryside in Hungary and Transylvania at the turn of the last century. It has much in common with Proust's Remembrances, with Musil's Man Without Qualities and with Tolstoy's writings about the peasants of Russia. The third and final book ties together the various destinies of each character and the notion of country as it is pulled apart with the advent of the first world war. Banffy himself was involved in Transylvanian politics and in a long, thwarted love-relationship which give depth and realism to the turn of events. I was so sad when the book ended, and even more sad for the fate of the countryside since. In traveling to Romania in 2005 you could see the poverty as you crossed the border between Hungary. Farms with gardens were flourishing on the Hungarian side, hovels with broken machinery and rusty metal with phlegmatic spots of green resided on the Romanian side along the way to Transylvania. The climate was no different, but the corruption in the government and the treatment of the people of the country was so different. I still have not made my way up to the Carpathians, but I dream of a walking tour there, wandering in the forests I have come to love through Banffy's eloquence.
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