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Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781590179499
Pages: 312
Publication Date: February 16, 2016

More Was LostA Memoir

by Eleanor Perényi, introduction by J.D. McClatchy

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Best known for her classic book Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden, Eleanor Perényi led a worldly life before settling down in Connecticut. More Was Lost is a memoir of her youth abroad, written in the early days of World War II, after her return to the United States. In 1937, at the age of nineteen, Perényi falls in love with a poor Hungarian baron and in short order acquires both a title and a struggling country estate at the edge of the Carpathians. She throws herself into this life with zeal, learning Hungarian and observing the invisible order of the Czech rule, the resentment of the native Ruthenians, and the haughtiness of the dispossessed Hungarians. In the midst of massive political upheaval, Perényi and her husband remain steadfast in their dedication to their new life, an alliance that will soon be tested by the war. With old-fashioned frankness and wit, Perényi recounts this poignant tale of how much was gained and how much more was lost.

Includes 12 photos. 

by eleanor perenyi


The book is entirely unpretentious...It is always lucid and crisp...If it is possible to draw a moral from the story, it would have to have something to do with the enormous and dangerous discrepancy between the traditional American way of taking Europe as a delightful fairy tale and the picture it actually presents: of absurd, anachronistic nationalisms and unequal stages of social development tearing one another to pieces.”
—Edmund Wilson, The New Yorker

[Parts] of More Was more delightfully than fiction. The book is full of delightful anecdotes, glimpses of semi-feudal life, vignettes of the friends and relatives with whom the Perényis passed their days.
—Catherine Maher, The New York Times

The baronial way of life that Eleanor recorded has the historical detail of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Between the Woods and the Water, yet there is none of the traveler’s distance in her writing.

—Richard Teleky, The Hopkins Review

[Perényi] emerges from her own pages a thoroughly likable person...her book is soaked in the atmosphere of a society and way of life that were several centuries outdated even before the Germans and the Hungarians and the Ruthenians and the Russians finally obliterated it from the world. The feudalism of Hungary was rusty and obsolete, but it had its charms. Now they are only memories, so that More Was Lost has the appeal of a lost cause.
—Orville Prescott, The New York Times

It's tempting to call this lovely little book "charming," but it's much steelier—and sadder—than that...How lovely that More Was Lost is lost no more.
—Britta Bohler, Open Letters Monthly