Tristan Quinn

Writing on the Fall

They Were Counted

By

Arcadia 596pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Originally published in 1934, this vast, grand novel – the first in a trilogy – portrays the blind folly of the Hungarian aristocracy carousing their way towards destruction in the decade before the First World War. Its title is derived – as are those of the later two books – from the Old Testament story of Belshazzar, the Babylonian king killed after a great feast at which he and his followers blithely worshipped the gods of gold and silver. Belshazzar, of course, was terrified by the writing that appeared on the wall: ‘The Lord hath counted thy kingdom… Thou art weighed in the balance and art found wanting… Thy kingdom is divided.’ Here it is the menace of modernity and the outside world, rather than God, that puts the good times at risk.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,
    • 'You are interested in a particular subject; basic research hardens this interest into an obsession, after which th… ,
    • 'Keynes predicted that future generations would enjoy such an improved standard of living that they might work just… ,
    • 'Various dislocations ... emerge, iceberg-like, out of a troubled sea of unconscious motivation and confront Eisenb… ,