Balint is the protagonist of a wonderful trilogy chronicling the declining decades of the Hungarian aristocracy in the years leading to the First World War.  He is also one of its most thoughtful, endearing characters.  Here he ponders a moment beneath a night sky and wonders what messages he might discern in the stars. 

Haven’t we all had such moments of communion with the sky-sparklers?  They make you look up, out and beyond, perhaps that’s why they engender this common reaction.  

The great constellations were like letters of fire in the sky and, in Balint’s imagination, seemed to be making their way ever closer to him so as eventually to disclose some ageless secret message even to that worm-like creature that was man, the secret, perhaps, of life and death … and of eternity. 

For other examples of such night-sky musings, see Vasily Grossman and Arthur Ransome, whom you would not normally see listed alongside each other.  


Source: Miklos Banffy, They Were Divided, trans. Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Banffy-Jelen (London: Arcadia Books, 2001 (1940)), p. 193

Photo credit: rauschenberger at pixabay


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