This is from an excellent trilogy by the Hungarian writer Miklos Banffy, chronicling the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and the role of his own (aristocratic) class in bringing it about.

While this triologism might sound endearing, in general the lawyers don’t win our admiration. Here is one more example of them picking up aristocratic assets gambled or otherwise squandered by dissolute heirs. It sounds clichéd, but the skill of the writing makes us have some sympathy for Laszlo, who piece by piece breaks up and sells off his inheritance, until he is finally selling little pieces of china that slipped his notice before.

The attorney has quietly hoovered up the farms and other properties. If this reflects some historical reality, it would be interesting to know how this middle class acquisition of formerly aristocratic wealth fared after the First World War, and particularly with the advent of Communism.  They deserve their own novel, viewing the same events from a different perspective.

‘When the little hedgehog-like attorney waddled into the room he found Laszlo pacing up and down impatiently.’

See another reference to a notary, in the same novel.


Source: Miklos Banffy, They Were Counted, trans. Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Banffy-Jelen (London: Arcadia Books, 1999 (1934)), p. 578


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