The recreation of the life of an aristocratic Hungarian, Balint Abady, in the Hungary of Transylvania from the early 20th century conducted by Miklos Banffy (1873-1950) is masterful. A long novel in three volumes, with a few titles tremendously significant: The days, the souls are judged and The divided kingdom, which began to be published in Spain in 2009, coinciding with the recovery at the international level of this work, written in the decade of the thirties, but wholly forgotten and despised by the soviet yoke under which they fell both Romania and Hungary at the end of World War II.
Just yesterday I was reading The Book of Daniel Chapter 5, and I found the scene of King Balthazar desecrating at a banquet the sacred vessels stolen in the Temple of Jerusalem when suddenly fingers appear writing on the wall. The king turns to the prophet Daniel, who translates to him what is written there: “”counted, weighed” and divided,”” your days have been numbered, and their limits have been set, you have been weighed, and found without weight, your kingdom shall be divided, and delivered to your enemies.
In this powerful image, Banffy is inspired to recapitulate his production, and this has been the trigger to write now precisely about this trilogy, which I keep as a timeless treasure. Miklos Banff was an interesting man, a descendant of a noble family rooted for over 500 years in Hungarian Transylvania, now the territory of Romania. Lawyer, politician, diplomat, writer, editor, painter, stage producer, Pioneer of the agrarian revolution and cooperatives, experienced the terrible turbulence of the Europe of the two world confrontations and in this work tried to immortalize the atmosphere of the dawn of the century, immediately preceding the hecatomb of Central Europe after the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Balint, Adrienne, and Laszlo, the main protagonists along with a multitude of different characters, are very young when the story begins, the love between Balint and Adrienne will soon take hold, while a loving disappointment truncates Laszlo’s promising musical career.
And besides the characters, there are two other great protagonists in this work, which reaches in the second volume its highest level, parliament and nature, both treated with detail, almost with mime, especially the field.
We are witnessing a deterioration in the political situation, both national and international. The Hungarian parliament, out of petty interests, is indifferent to the fratricidal rivalries that are emerging within it. The portrayal of the deputies is as weak as today’s politicians, in general, could be: governments based on lies, contempt for parliamentary rules, nationalist intransigence in the face of the typical imperial project, never-undertaken agrarian reforms, the nefarious Hungarian fate and its “certain tendency to nirvana, a kind of disinterest for fame and success… the virtue consisted of the simple fact of having the capacity to achieve something, it was not necessary to achieve it”, until the end of the despondent and hopeless tiredness that he plans on each of the lines of the third volume, where he records the dismemberment of the kingdom.
It is in the description of his native land where he acquires the greatness and beauty of a beautiful symphony with its sunrises and silences, its landscapes and lights, the liveliness and variety of its inhabitants, the exceptional descriptions of its castles and manor houses, the hunting of hares and pheasants with recalls, the batting of furtive shepherds, the forests and snowmen, the horses, their shots and Obstacle Races, The sighting of the games in heat and the berries of the deer.
A magnificent work with the lightness and mastery typical of the great literacies of the XIX century, without the depth and disquisitions of other authors of its surroundings, but with a constant precision and interest, which makes it an absolute summit of realistic literature. No one should scare your extension, if you enjoyed Dumas or Tolstoy, don’t hesitate to let yourself take by the hand Banffy and introduced in the classroom and customs of this nobility where men and women are looking for, as all, the love and the happiness.