The MONKEY and other stories
by Miklós Bánffy
Count Miklós Bánffy was born in 1873 into one of Transylvania’s longest-established noble families. He studied law and embarked on a political career (serving as Hungary’s Foreign Minister in 1921–2), but his inclinations were always artistic and he made a name for himself as a literary editor, as manager of the Hungarian Opera, and as a talented designer of theatre sets and costumes. It is as a writer that he is best known: his Transylvanian Trilogy is one of the great works of twentieth-century European literature. When Europe’s borders were redrawn after the First World War, Transylvania was assigned to Romania and though Bánffy took Romanian citizenship, he lost his land after the new national reforms. Following the Second World War, the Communist regime blocked his ability to publish his writings. In 1949 he left Romania for Budapest, where he died in 1950.
The translator, Thomas Sneddon, was born in County Down, Northern Ireland, and completed an MA in translation at Queen’s University, Belfast. He lives and works in Budapest.
Born in the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Miklós Bánffy lived to witness both the zenith of that Empire and its fall. The short stories in this collection, from the tale of the idle young man dawdling pleasantly in Venice to the Romanian villager meditating revenge on his tormentor, draw on the author’s experiences of life, love, sacrifice, betrayal and courage, and reveal, as a recurring leitmotif, an indomitable will to survive. Now published in English for the first time.