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Miklos Bánffy: Darabokra szaggattatol (They Were Divided)

The final book of the trilogy carries on where the previous one left off. Once again there are two main plot themes. The first concerns Balint Abady’s love affair with Adrienne Uzdy. They had broken off, after Adrienne’s husband had gone insane but looked like living for a long time. But, early on in this book, they meet by chance and their relationship continues. Finally, Adrienne’s husband, Pal, dies of pleurisy and they plan to get married after the obligatory mourning period. Of course, by the end of the book this plan has unraveled as Adrienne’s daughter has tuberculosis and has to be kept in a remote sanatorium and Adrienne feels that they cannot marry as long as the girl continues to suffer.

The other main plot strand is the inevitable move towards the First World War. We follow all the local and international politics, with Abady involved to a certain degree. Bánffy seems to think everyone is to blame – the various political parties in Hungary, the Serbs, the Austrians, the Dual Monarchy, the Russians, the Montenegrins, the British, the French, the Germans, the Albanians. No-one escapes his censure. He points out the role of all of these (and more) in bringing about the inevitable but is particularly critical of his fellow countrymen and their seeming love for war which, as he knows with the benefit of hindsight, will be harmful to his country and, in particular, to his region of the country – Transylvania.

There are other subplots. These include the legal problems he faces in protecting the people of his district. His cousin Laszlo falls further into drunkenness and poverty and eventually dies, loved only by the daughter of the local Jewish store-keeper. Abady’s mother finally comes to accept his love for Adrienne but then gets ill and dies. But, as in the two previous books, what make this book is Bánffy’s love for his people, his love for his country and his brilliance in making us share this love.

Publishing history

First published in Hungarian 1940 by Erdélyi Szépmíves Céh
First published in English 2001 by Arcadia
Translated by Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Bánffy-Jelen