There are other books set in Transylvania, although one would think there was only ever the one…
But first, an unashamed plug for my recent children’s book – bilingual RO-EN edition. I’ll be doing a book tour of the Romanian diaspora in the UK this September (’17), by the way.
Dragoni pe cerul Londrei (Dragons over London)
by Arabella McIntyre-Brown, pub. May 2017 in Bucharest by Booklet Fiction
Find out more on the book blog, Dragons over London Meet the characters, see the setting, learn something about London’s fabulous history, and much more.
Now… back to Transylvania books….
by Miklos Banffy (pub 1934-1940, modern edition pub 2010)
Neglected Book’s write-up on the trilogy and quotes Daily Telegraph reviewer Charles Moore: “This growing acclaim is deserved. Banffy’s trilogy is just about as good as any fiction I have ever read…. Although they are very funny, they are deeply serious. They are like Anna Karenina and War and Peace rolled into one. Love, sex, town, country, money, power, beauty, and the pathos of a society which cannot prevent its own destruction – all are here.”
Over the course of the last ten years, mostly through word-of-mouth recommendations, these three novels – They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting, and They Were Divided – originally published in Hungary between 1934 and 1940, have become recognized by a small but enthusiastic band of readers as one of the finest works of the 20th century.”
The Scotsman’s reviewer exulted: “[Th]is is a novel of great events and the private lives of a huge cast of characters told with gusto and amplitude…. If it is the Romantic elements that make the novel so enjoyable, so irresistible, it is the author’s keen political intelligence and refusal to indulge in self-deception which give it an unusual distinction. It’s a novel that, read at the gallop for sheer enjoyment, is likely to carry you along. But many will want to return to it for a second, slower reading, to savour its subtleties and relish the author’s intelligence.”
Jan Morris named They Were Found Wanting as one of her books of the year for 2000 and Caroline Moor wrote in another year-end wrap-up, “My great find of the year is a reprint of the magnificent trilogy, set in pre-war Transylvania by Miklos Banffy which stands comparison with the great Russian and French masters. Banffy vies with Tolstoy for sweep, Pasternak for romance and Turgenev for evocation of nature; his fiction is packed with irresistible social detail and crammed with superb characters: it is gloriously, addictively, compulsively readable.”
Banffy, or, to use his full title, Count Miklos Banffy de Losoncz, was a member of the Hungarian nobility and a liberal politician, influential in the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and an early foreign minister of Hungary after the ouster of Bela Kun’s communist regime in 1920. After retiring from that office over differences with the Regent, Miklos Horthy and the ruling conservatives, Banffy retired to his ancestral home, Banffy Castle, in Transylvania – now part of Romania.
by Maurus Jokai
A fascinating and entertaining story set in seventeenth century Transylvania revolving around events taking place subsequent to the coronation of a somewhat reluctant Prince Michael Apafi, whom the Turks raised to power. “The story is absorbingly interesting and displays all the virility of Jokai’s powers, his genius of description, his keenness of characterization, his subtlety of humor and his consummate art in the progression of the novel from one apparent climax to another.” (Literary World, London)
Maurus Jokai (1825 – 1904) was a Hungarian novelist who took part as a journalist in the revolution of 1848. He wrote about 200 novels, including Timar’s Two Worlds, Black Diamonds, and The Romance of the Coming Century.
by Jules Verne (pub 1893)
In the village of Werst in the Carpathian mountains of Transylvania (then part of Austria-Hungary), some mysterious things are occurring and the villagers believe that Chort (the devil) occupies the castle. A visitor of the region, Count Franz de Télek, is intrigued by the stories and decides to go to the castle and investigate and finds that the owner of the castle is Baron Rodolphe de Gortz, one of his acquaintances, as years ago, they were rivals for the affections of the celebrated Italian prima donna La Stilla. The Count thought that La Stilla was dead, but he sees her image and voice coming from the castle, but we later on find that it was only a holographic image.
[The Gutenberg version is only available to read in French]
by Elizabeth Kostova (pub 2006)
Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history.
In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright – a hunt for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the Dracula myth. Deciphering obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading terrifying adversaries, one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil.
Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions – a captivating tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful – and utterly unforgettable.
by C.C. Humphreys (pub 2010)
DRACULA. A name of horror, depravity and the darkest sensuality. Yet the real Dracula was just as alluring, just as terrifying, his story not of a monster but of a man – and a contradiction. For the one they called ‘The Devil’s Son’ was both tyrant and lawgiver, crusader and mass slaughterer, torturer and hero, lover and murderer. His tale is told by those who knew him best. The only woman he ever loved, who he must sacrifice. His closest comrade and traitor. And his priest, betraying the secrets of the confessional to reveal the mind of the man history would forever remember as Tepes – ‘The Impaler’. But Vlad’s actions defy such labels. His extraordinary life burns with passion, taking him from his years as hostage to the Turk, through torture, battle, triumph and betrayal, ultimately to a last crusade – there perhaps, beneath the twin banners of the Dragon and the Cross, to find redemption for his innumerable sins.
by Bram Stoker (originally pub 1897)
Wikipedia says: ”
The novel is told in epistolary format, as a series of letters, diary entries, ships’ log entries, and so forth. The main writers of these items are also the novel’s protagonists. The story is occasionally supplemented with newspaper clippings that relate events not directly witnessed by the story’s characters.
The tale begins with Jonathan Harker, a newly qualified English solicitor, journeying by train and carriage from England to Count Dracula’s crumbling, remote castle (situated in the Carpathian Mountains on the border ofTransylvania, Bukovina, and Moldavia). The purpose of his mission is to provide legal support to Dracula for a real estate transaction overseen by Harker’s employer, Peter Hawkins, of Exeter in England. At first enticed by Dracula’s gracious manner, Harker soon discovers that he has become a prisoner in the castle. He also begins to see disquieting facets of Dracula’s nocturnal life. One night while searching for a way out of the castle, and against Dracula’s strict admonition not to venture outside his room at night, Harker falls under the spell of three wanton female vampires, “the Sisters”. He is saved at the last second by the Count, because he wants to keep Harker alive just long enough to obtain needed legal advice and teachings about England and London (Dracula’s planned travel destination so as to be among the “teeming millions”). Harker barely escapes from the castle with his life.
“Not long afterward, a Russian ship, the Demeter, having weighed anchor at Varna, runs aground on the shores ofWhitby, England, during a fierce tempest. All of the crew are missing and presumed dead, and only one body is found, that of the captain tied to the ship’s helm. The captain’s log is recovered and tells of strange events that had taken place during the ship’s journey. These events led to the gradual disappearance of the entire crew apparently owing to a malevolent presence on board the ill-fated ship. An animal described as a large dog is seen on the ship leaping ashore. The ship’s cargo is described as silver sand and boxes of “mould”, or earth, from Transylvania.