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They Were Counted
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Buddy Reads > The Transylvanian Trilogy

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message 1: by Phrodrick (last edited Jan 12, 2020 08:38AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phrodrick | 155 comments We are looking to start around Feb 1.
This gets us a place to gather. I am being bold enough to think we will manage all three books (Guesstimating) 1,000 plus pages.
I am working from The Everyman Library Edition with can be pricey even 2nd hand. They Were Counted The Transylvanian Trilogy, Volume I by Miklós Bánffy

If you know of a free on line edition that may help others. More than one translation can promote discussion.

Meantime I will drop in time to time with background, Also I like pictures please add what you think contributes.

message 2: by Phrodrick (last edited Jan 18, 2020 01:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phrodrick | 155 comments In Case anyone checks in we are 11 days from official kick off. Having a little time I have started digging about. My copy has a 14 page intro and about twice that in other preface material. I hope to have that and a chapter or two down by start date. I prefer to be a little ahead. Makes it easier to set goals and warn if things are going to need more or less.

So some pictures:
This is from
I think the notes are by Patrick Fermor, one of my candidates for worlds most interesting man and a translator of an earlier edition of this book.:
Miklos Banffy, the author and statesman who lived in Cluj, ran the opera house in Budapest, was foreign minister of Hungary and organized the last coronation of a king of Hungary.

Banffy Hall early in restoration:


message 3: by Phrodrick (last edited Jan 18, 2020 01:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phrodrick | 155 comments A family picture near another family estate, Bontida, The daughter is Katalin, who is co-translator of my edition.

More to follow soon. That will be more in the way of a bio.

Folk all I think pictures can add alot, so feel free to dig about as we go.

Phrodrick | 155 comments Ok so sooner than I thought. Given the source I could not resist:
From The Hungarian Review
Miklós Bánffy (30 December 1873 – June 6, 1950) was a Hungarian nobleman, politician, and novelist. His books include The Transylvanian Trilogy (They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting and They Were Divided). Beginning his political career at the time when Hungary was a constituent of Austria-Hungary, Bánffy was elected a Member of Parliament in 1901 and became Director of the Hungarian State Theatres (1913–1918). Both a traditionalist and a member of the avant-garde, he wrote five plays, two books of short stories, and a distinguished novel. Overcoming fierce opposition, his intervention made it possible for Béla Bartók's works to have their first performance in Budapest. Bánffy became Foreign Minister of Hungary in István Bethlen's government of 1921. His trilogy, A Transylvanian Tale, also called The Writing on the Wall, was published between 1934 and 1940. Bánffy portrayed pre-war Hungary as a nation in decline, failed by a shortsighted aristocracy. The communist regime in Hungary permitted the reissue of A Transylvanian Tale in 1982, and it was translated into English for the first time in 1999.

message 5: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments Phrodrick wrote: "We are looking to start around Feb 1.
This gets us a place to gather. I am being bold enough to think we will manage all three books (Guesstimating) 1,000 plus pages.
I am working from The Everyman..."

Hey - as a heads up, each volume is available at £1.99 each on the UK kindle :-)

message 6: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments Phrodrick wrote: "Ok so sooner than I thought. Given the source I could not resist:
From The Hungarian Review
Miklós Bánffy (30 December 1873 – June 6, 1950) was a Hungarian nobleman, politician, and novelist. His b..."

I love the notes and background! It's something I never look into myself. I really enjoyed the Hyperion notes when I read it with the other group.

Phrodrick | 155 comments We are now one week out from the official kick off.

I am 2 chapters in and am certain that having more than one person in for the ride will be a huge help for me.

I have seen some reads get formal with a set schedule and kick off questions.
Others have been place for people to make comments with only a casual eye to avoid spoilers.

What is your pleasure. What format will make this a "more than satisfying" reading experience for ya'll?

To open the floor, I am thinking that something around 50 pages, or 2 chapters a week will keep this from dragging out and help to define what constitutes a spoiler.

message 8: by Jenny (new) - added it

Jenny | 42 comments This trilogy is calling to me and I’d very much like to join the buddy read. However we are readying our home to put on the market and I’m trying to strictly read only the books I have on hand. That said, my daughter gave me a gift card to our local bookstore for Christmas and I’ve already cruised both the new and used sections to see if They Were Counted was readily available. It was not or my resolve would certainly have crumpled. Not sure how long I can hold out. I’m half planning to try to catch up and join you later.

message 9: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments I’m happy to do 50 pages a week :-) I’ve gone with kindle - it’s £1.99 a volume

Phrodrick | 155 comments Ok Banffy fans this is day 1. SO! Lets Get Buddy!... Buddy like<?> , Buddy with it..

Somehow I find myself starting Chapter 2, in Part 2 or over 100 pages in. I am finding it a mostly easy read except I doubt I will ever be able to keep more than a few names right. Hoping you guys can help w that.

W/O spoilers, Part one seems to be focused on introducing the people and the basic set up. Clearly certain pairings will be more important than others and certain themes will be leading the in the narrative.

Based on 100+ pages I understand the tendency to compare this with War and Peace, but I do not buy it. My take is that this is more like The Pallisers by Trollope. My guess is that the politics will be as much domestic as national. Tho I have reason to believe that the national politics will loom more substantially in pre WWI Transylvania. Love affairs will not end well, or maybe they will.

Spoiler alert: 100+ pages in, lots of castles but not yet one be-fanged night crawling blood sucker.

message 11: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments I’ve started! I‘be only read the first chapter and have retained two names so far........

message 12: by Cphe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cphe | 32 comments Certainly a lot of castles, very upper class. Not a lot about the peasantry. Imagined that it would be similar to the Zola that we read previously.

So many characters that it may be difficult to invest in them.

message 13: by Phrodrick (last edited Feb 01, 2020 03:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phrodrick | 155 comments Not sure if it matters, but It looks like and based on other sources this is NOT going to be about the common person or peasants. Much like Jane Austin or Trollope or some others. I would add not about yhe middle class ala Zola, but that begs several questions.

That said not every one with a title or property is wealthy, plus some research hints that having a castle, like having a country is not the same as keeping it.

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I started, but have only made it through the introduction and part of the Hungarian Chronology so far.

Phrodrick | 155 comments The title of the trilogy is The Writing in the Wall
Being a direct reference to the biblical story of Belshazzar the Chaldean's feast.
The writing on the wall was that
"B had been weighed (Counted)"
This being the title of book 1
and "Found Wanting"
Title of book II
"your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians"
title of book III

Given what we know, or should know and Banffy knew first hand of the looming future of events beyond the forests (Transylvania ), I am thinking something wicked this way comes.

message 16: by Phrodrick (last edited Feb 02, 2020 03:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phrodrick | 155 comments Given that I am well into part 3 and around 3 weeks ahead, I am going to limit my comments to what I mean to be encouragement.

Part I seems to be just about introducing people and places. Part 2 we begin to see who relates to who and how the romances are going to align, initially. Part 3 looks to be where the plot begins.

There is going to be alot about dresses so here are some images of high western fashion circ 1905:



message 17: by Phrodrick (last edited Feb 02, 2020 03:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phrodrick | 155 comments This was also the age of the Gibson Girls, and his beau ideal, and onetime mistress to the soon to be late Stanford, White Evelyn Nesbit .

This from 1905 by the famous John Singer Sargent
image: description

message 18: by Cphe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cphe | 32 comments They appear to copy the English in their high teas etc.

Eye boggling with what some of the men wear when shooting in which they aren't very sporting I must say.

What on earth do they do with all the poor dead ducks?

Phrodrick | 155 comments don't think these were duck
more like small game bird , driven pheasant shooting seems most likely 2-3 pound each before cleaning about the size of Cornish hens<?>

so some, the ones filled will less bird shot, become dinner as for the rest maybe the servants and the beaters?

message 20: by Phrodrick (last edited Feb 02, 2020 07:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phrodrick | 155 comments image: description

The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate

image: description

message 21: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments Thank you for all the images! It really helps with the visuals. I'm on chapter 3 and so far it seems very "Russian"......

Phrodrick | 155 comments Cphe wrote: "They appear to copy the English in their high teas etc.

Eye boggling with what some of the men wear when shooting in which they aren't very sporting I must say.

What on earth do they do with all ..."

Just read your review. Hardly seems like you liked it.
Does this mean you have finished w it and us?

message 23: by Cphe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cphe | 32 comments As I said it waxed and waned in parts - overall I enjoyed it - I did rate it 4 stars after all.

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Finished Part I.

It took me a little while to get into this--Balint's carriage ride to the party where he mentioned so many characters was a little much all at once, but I also had the feeling that Banffy, looking back, had a high degree of nostalgia flavoring his memories.

Once we got to the party, and past some of the specific political issues the men were talking about in the garden, I started getting into the groove of the thing.

I liked the character of Dodo, the rich heiress that everyone was afraid of--though I think she may be more interested in Lazlo.

I expect that this nostalgia flavoring is part of the story--this is the end of a particular age, and I can see how someone who had one foot on either side of WWI would see a long decline. Given the title, I wonder if he doesn't consider it to be in some ways their own fault. I guess we'll see.

Phrodrick | 155 comments WOW, two finished and I thought I was out front at less than 1/2 way

Bringing together my two thoughts just now
This reads like Trollope if he was not bolted into the over laden language of Victorian Era Fiction.

The plot line is classics in it has counter parts in both Tolstoy and Trollope (again) but the modern language makes it many times more readable
Somehow Banffy misses naturalism and can have people be passionate, silly and selfish and noble.

I am having some mid way bog down, but he is thickening the plot evan as characters start to sort themselves out.

As literature, still just so far, he is not up to the Russian Greats, but this is a much deeper and more complex world that say Jane Austin ever attempted. Dickens is more universal and has a lighter hand. B is more literary than Henryk Sienkiewicz, at least based on his trilogy compared with less than half of book 1 in this trilogy.

Not sure who is still in for the duration. Likely I will not be able to finish this in less than 2 more week.

So I will post now and then and see who is hanging around

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I plan on reading more or less straight through--I'm afraid if allow too much time to pass between readings, I'll lose track of who's who. Besides, I'm enjoying it.

message 27: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments Phrodrick wrote: "WOW, two finished and I thought I was out front at less than 1/2 way

Bringing together my two thoughts just now
This reads like Trollope if he was not bolted into the over laden language of Victor..."

I agree with your assessment. It feels a bit like a Russian in its cast of characters but a bit more like Middlemarch or Vanity Fair in its tone so far.

I've just finished part 2. I'm currently reading one or two chapters a day (around 30 pages) so I will probably be finishing about the same time as you :-)

message 28: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments Bryan wrote: "I plan on reading more or less straight through--I'm afraid if allow too much time to pass between readings, I'll lose track of who's who. Besides, I'm enjoying it."

I'm enjoying this one too :-)

Phrodrick | 155 comments For when you get there or if you have already
Silver by Juste Aurel Meissonier


Phrodrick | 155 comments I am working my way through part IV.
A theme I keep seeing is that of the snake(s) in the Garden of Edan.

We get extravagant visuals and the inner thoughts of basically good people and then someone is brought in who role has to be the destruction of what had just been described.
Anyone else?

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments We are close--I think I started part V this morning.

I'm enjoying Balint's education, but even if you didn't know your history, there's a gloomy feeling to it all, as if all his efforts are foreordained to come to nothing.

Still, Lazslo seems to be the emotional center of the book. He's hard not to cheer for.

message 32: by Cphe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cphe | 32 comments Laszlo didn't seem to be as naive as AB and was easier to make a connection with.

Phrodrick | 155 comments I was sorta the other way around
From the beginning I thought I knew everything I needed to know about Laszlo when he was talked out of being a serious student.
Since then I have moved toward him and away.

I am pages into section V and kinda think he is in trouble and everyone is to tied to their serious sense of duty and what is proper to see him getting out easily, if he wants out.

It was very telling that the Female servant who got severely screwed, in more ways than one; was across the board more pragmatic and less tied to the delicacy of the nobility to address in clear language what her situation was and future was going to be.

From the beginning Balint was My Man. Now I am not so sure. Parts of him are beginning to grate. I wish him well, but he is more than a tad too full of it and himself. He is clearly headed into at least two vastly different comeuppances and shamefully blind about another. If some one wants to call him a prig, I will wince but take it as justified.

I am going to make the bold statement that I am now committed to about 1050 pages more as I have some definite ideas about what has to be coming an any of several plot lines and want to know how good are my guesses.

Anyone else notice this and have their ears perk up?
In my book top of page 354

"A Man who tried to see every side to every problem, who bent over backwards to to take a fair and equitable view was a suspect animal in the world of politics. What, to most politicians, could be more equivocal and therefore not to be trusted, than someone who admitted that those with contrary opinions might be right? Audiatur et altera pars( which might be translated as 'There are two sides to every question') held no attraction for committed party members for whom their own party's program was Revealed Truth, while that of their opponents was just as inevitably the work of the Devil. We are right and they are wrong and that was that!"

Phrodrick | 155 comments Other thought - allowing for exceptions, I find the characters split between basically decent people often with noble intentions but complex personalities that are never all one or the other and others who are among the snakes and the remainders mostly back drop or comedic minors.

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Okay, so here's one thing I was thinking.

Lazslo and Klara's romance is broken off by her stepmother, and I think, 'what a pity--the stepmother is a heartless witch'.

Judith's family tries to step and keep her from marrying Wickwitz, and I think, 'Bravo--good job, family.'

Not that there's necessarily a contradiction--since we know the interiors of both men. But it does make me think about I look at these things in real life.

Phrodrick | 155 comments Balint, speaking of Adrienne :
"She... looked like a Tanagra Figurine come to life..."
"Tanagra figurine, any of the small terra-cotta figures dating primarily from the 3rd century bc, and named after the site in Boeotia, in east-central Greece, where they were found. Well-dressed young women in various positions, usually standing or sitting, are the main subject matter of the statuettes. On occasion the figures pull their garments around them closely, veiling the face, or they may wear a hat or hold a fan or mirror. The Tanagra figurines were all manufactured with molds, but the use of separate molds in combination (different arms, heads) lent interesting variation. The figures were all originally covered with a white coating and then painted. The garments were generally bright shades—blue, red, pink, violet, yellow, and brown. The flesh was reddish or pinkish, the hair auburn, the lips red, and the eyes blue. Gilt and black were used for details. The authentic statuettes that survive are missing their white coating and bright paint. On their discovery in the 19th century they became enormously popular and were extensively and expertly forged, even with paint.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Phrodrick wrote: "
Anyone else notice this and have their ears perk up?
In my book top of page 354..."

I have thought several times that the political situation the characters are facing has a lot of parallels to our own time.

Phrodrick | 155 comments I have just finished the chapter that being with Addy asking Balint to buy a pistol .
This is not the first time we have seen pistols brandished about.
I have less than 150 pages to go . I have to wonder about the Chekhov rule:

Chekhov's gun (Russian: Чеховское ружьё) is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make "false promises" by never coming into play.
sourse Wiki

message 39: by Cphe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cphe | 32 comments Boils down to money, connection and class

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I finished this morning. I enjoyed it quite a bit--I plan on continuing with the trilogy, but I'm going to have to wait for them to come from an inter-library loan, and it may be a while.

Phrodrick | 155 comments A tad over 50 pages to go.
I do like it.
I am also getting frustrated because I think a few things have to happen. Some parts read more like a tease than the beginning of the wind up.

Phrodrick | 155 comments Gotta say the entire Balint in the bedroom and only talking wears thin very fast. Chekhov's Gun squared.

OK In case you thought the history is also Fiction. Just a few names from the end of book 1

Dr. Wekerle all from Wiki
Sándor Wekerle (14 November 1848 – 26 August 1921) was a Hungarian politician who served three times as prime minister. He was the first non-noble to hold the office in Hungary.
n November 1892 Wekerle succeeded Count Gyula Szapáry as premier, though still retaining the portfolio of finance. At the head of a strong government he was enabled, in spite of a powerful opposition of Catholics and Magnates, to carry in 1894 the Civil Marriage Bill. The continued opposition of the clerical party, however, brought about his resignation on 22 December 1894, when he was succeeded by Dezső Bánffy. On 1 January 1897 he was appointed president of the newly created judicial commission at Budapest, and for the next few years held aloof from politics, even under the ex-lex government of Khuen-Héderváry. On the reconciliation of the king-emperor with the coalition he was therefore selected as the most suitable man to lead the new government, and on 8 April 1906 was appointed prime minister, taking at the same time the portfolio of finance. He resigned the premiership on 27 April 1909, but was not relieved of his office until the formation of the Khuen-Héderváry cabinet on 17 January 1910.

So we Know that the end of the book has to be around April 1906

Another name we have seen more than once
István, Count Tisza
Entering the Hungarian Parliament in 1886, Tisza became a leader of the Liberal Party (led by his father, Kálmán Tisza) and a defender of the dual monarchy and of Hungary’s large landed interests. He became prime minister in 1903 but was heavily defeated at the polls in 1905.

There is more, but it reads like a spoiler

Phrodrick | 155 comments Ok Finished Book 1. I have a lot of inertia just now, but I think I will finish something very different that lacks a few hours to be done.

Overall I think I am liking Banff more than what I have seen here. This seems to be Gone with the Wind written by someone with a lot more skills when it comes to complex characters and many scenes of action.

'The history seems valid and the character more dimensional than merely heroic or villainous.

Most of the writing is very fine, but some plot elements are a tad to soap opera.

This is well on the way to its tragic end, or what I think has to be tragic.

Phrodrick | 155 comments To whom this may concern.
By early next week I shall have cleared from my reading list at least 3 remnants of unfinished books thereby opening the chance to start on the next book in the trilogy.

If'n after a few comments I see I am a voice in the void I will get the hint. Or failing that a less mixed metaphor.

Darren (dazburns) | 669 comments Mod
I am choc-a this month, but have every intention of starting They Were Found Wanting on 1st March :oD

Phrodrick | 155 comments I am slightly ahead of the goals from Feb 12 so tonight I begin Transylvania 6000, umm no I mean Transylvania Vol 2, They Were Found Wanting.

Phrodrick | 155 comments not wanting to run stories together, I just posted my review of vol 1.
Bottom line best thing I have read in a few months.

Phrodrick | 155 comments At least I thought I had posted a review. It seems to be up now.. maybe, I think

Phrodrick | 155 comments To whom it may concern.
I am nearing the 1/2 way mark in Volume 2.
IT is so much a continuation of Vol I I am not sure why he bothered to end Vol 1.
Lots more politics and for the first time international politics..

Phrodrick | 155 comments AS I move into the wind up on book 2

One plot lines ends rather quickly and a second reaches a more emotion end. A third is getting meatier.

Tons more politics and a sense that there are no pages of obviously shoved in material , as the Victorians usually had to do to meet contracts. But I am fighting a sense that this is drawn out. Maybe a few too many sub plots .

Fewer parties and less about the ladies dresses, a tad more about the what the men are wearing. Several hunts but ....

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