The Phoenix Land
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Following the success of Miklos Banffy's highly-praised Transylvanian Trilogy, winner of the Weidenfeld Translation Prize 2002, Arcadia are delighted to announce the publication of Miklos Banffy's memoirs. The 100 year-old kingdom of Hungary, which formed the major part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until the last Habsburg fled in 1918, was finally dismembered by the Western Allies by the terms of the peace treaties which followed the First World War. Phoenix-like the Hungarian people survived the horrors of the war, the disappointment of the first socialist republic, the disillusion of the brief but terrifying communist rule of Bela Kun, and the bitterness of seeing their beloved country dismembered by the Treaty of Trianon. This is the world that Miklos Banffy describes in the Phoenix Land.
officers, and in their brand-new uniforms, there was nothing to show that they were newly-released prisoners of war. They looked well nourished, had a good healthy colour and talked loudly among themselves with shining eyes and a proud happy mien. Seeing them there was completely unexpected and struck in me a most painful note. Until that moment I had only seen the men of a defeated nation, exhausted, strained to desperation by desperate struggles, whose manner and bearing reflected only the
to all who passed and, if one laughed and joked with them, they threw more bouquets after us. Our journey to Haarlem covered at least twenty kilometres, and so dazzling was the entire trip that when we reached the city and saw its dull grey houses ahead it was almost as if one had suddenly been struck blind. Everyone should see this who can: it is an unforgettable sight. Haarlem, as the capital of the tulip-growing region, celebrates the flower harvest with a national exhibition at which all
was being done there against them, had already tried several times to force their way in. It was a strange time then in Vienna. While the Austrian authorities took no notice, a serious battle was being waged between the civilian Hungarian refugees and the subversive Communist agents from Budapest. Everyone carried a gun, for, although the dimly-lit streets of Vienna seemed peaceful enough, we still had to take evasive action if we sensed that we were being followed, turning to face whomever it
would start again, ‘Mr Bowie, chief secretary of the Unitarian Church, promised that … Sorry!’ and off to the tree again. This went on for an hour and a half until, in spite of it all I managed to relate everything I had to say and also receive Bethlen’s messages for Budapest. That evening I was well enough to board the train and by the time I arrived home I was quite fit again. It seemed that having to deliver this fatal report had saved me from the worst effects of oyster poisoning from which
necessarily a disadvantage, since a national monarch, like a benevolent father providing for his family, would work to make his country prosper and so deepen the nation’s pride in itself. It was also in the monarch’s own interest to do so, since his power and prestige depended on that of the country he ruled. With it he rose or sank. The unity of the French and Spanish kingdoms was cemented because their ruling monarchs were truly national, whereas parliamentary government had been known to be