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Miklos Bánffy: És híjával találtattál (They Were Found Wanting)

The second book in Bánffy’s trilogy is more of the same but still makes for great reading. We have the same three major strands as in the first book. First and foremost, there is Count Balint Abady, our hero. When we left him, he was planning to break off his relationship with Adrienne Uzdy after their holiday in Venice. However, both sides want to continue but with possible dire consequences for both. Balint’s beloved mother cannot stand Adrienne and threatens to break off all relations with her son if he marries her. For her part, Adrienne has increasingly become aware that her husband is insane (supported by the fact that he takes a few shots at her – though deliberately misses, and that his father and, possibly, his mother were insane). She enlists the help of what we would now call a psychiatrist who confirms her diagnosis. Unfortunately, shortly before she can divorce him, her husband has a complete breakdown.

Laszlo Gyeröffy fares much worse. Having lost all his money, he continues to sink further into debt and becomes a complete drunk. Various people – particularly women – try to help him but he spurns them all. The end is inevitable. In the background of all of this activity is the political situation in Hungary and, indeed, in Europe as we move slowly towards World War I, even though few of the various characters realise it. Abady is, of course, involved but only on the fringes. As in the first novel, this remains a thoroughly engrossing and charming novel, concerned about people and concerned about a region.

Publishing history

First published in Hungarian 1937 by Erdélyi Szépmíves Céh
First published in English 2000 by Arcadia