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Das grosse Heft. Roman by Agota Kristof
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Das grosse Heft. Roman (original 1986; edition 1994)

by Agota Kristof

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3371632,652 (4.23)19
Member:daniinad
Title:Das grosse Heft. Roman
Authors:Agota Kristof
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Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Kindheit, Krieg

Work details

The Notebook by Ágota Kristóf (1986)

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» See also 19 mentions

English (9)  French (4)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  All (16)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Wurde mir unsympathisch, bevor ich es las, weil alle(TM) es ach so berührend und schlimm fanden. Nun suchte ich allerdings in meinem alten Regal nach Büchern weiblicher Autorinnen, die ich noch nicht gelesen habe (ich las bisher zu viel von Männern Geschriebenes, finde ich). Das war neben Gedichten von Emily Dickinson das einzige. Und, ach, es stimmt, dieses Büchlein ist enorm packend, da kann ich mich nicht dagegen verwehren. Schockierend, nein, fast nie, das meiste ist so nachvollziehbar (wenn auch unschön). Das Ende nicht in allen Details, was soll's. ( )
  kthxy | May 6, 2016 |
A mother from an unnamed European country—probably Hungary, which is where the author comes from— brings her two small city boys, twin brothers, to their grandmother who lives in a small town. The old woman is mean, dirty and stinks because she never washes herself. She curses at and hits the boys constantly and refuses to feed them unless they do all the hard work required with the gardening and tending of the household. They sleep on a bench in the kitchen, without sheets or blankets, which their mother had provided, but which the old woman has sold at the market to make extra money along with their change of clothes. Not surprisingly, the old woman is known as "the witch" by the townsfolk because she is suspected of having poisoned her husband. We don't know the exact age of the boys, only that they should be in grade school and they still have their milk teeth. The boys are an inseparable pair, unusually clever. They never play. Instead they spend their time either doing chores or educating themselves, often at one and the same time. They train themselves to endure hunger with deliberate fasting exercises. They hit each other to learn to endure pain during another exercise and in yet another hurl verbal abuse at each other until it ceased to sting. They own a bible and a dictionary, and from this they teach themselves to write, with a daily exercise which consists of writing essays about their days. Once the essays are corrected, they are entered into a notebooks, which relates their life during the war, then once the country has been taken over by the "liberators", i.e. the USSR. The prose is deliberately spare and devoid of feeling or embellishments. The boys come off as very scary sociopaths, but also incredible survivors who will stop at nothing to endure and thrive. A fascinating read, and strangely, or maybe not so strangely, very emotional, because the reader can't help fill in those bits the boys are working so hard to cut out of their personalities: feelings of love and tenderness and empathy. Makes for compulsive reading and highly recommended. This is part of a trilogy; I've reserved the next book from the library. ( )
3 vote Smiler69 | Jan 25, 2016 |
A quite extraordinary book, which will stay with you for some time. The nameless, identical, twins who think and act as one, are sent to their grandmothers house to avoid war time bombings. At first they seem to be the embodiment of evil e.g. " Grandmother doesn't go up to the attic anymore, because we sawed through one of the rungs of the ladder and she fell and hurt herself". But in fact the twins are highly rational and moral. They create exercises and training for themselves to eliminate the need for love, to strip language of its emotion and endure any amount of pain. Thus preparing themselves for the unraveling of society around them as the Nazi's retreat and the Russians arrive. They help their disabled neighbour Harelip and her bedridden mother by blackmailing the local priest, who has been molesting Harelip, into providing assistance. Until such time as they decide he's paid enough. They put up with any amount of indignities from a local officer, billeted on their grandmother. The priest's housekeeper is at first their friend, but when they see her taunting convoys of transported Jews they extract revenge. And so rational are they, that anyone should think very carefully about uttering a phrase like "I wish I was dead" anywhere near them

Not for the faint hearted; we have scenes of atrocious perversion and violence described and its just as well the twins have hardened themselves to be immune to pain. But an extremely rewarding book with a very dark and ambiguous ending ( )
  Opinionated | Apr 1, 2015 |
My review can be found here:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/819375379 ( )
  MSarki | Jan 24, 2015 |
It's the story of twins during what appears to be WW II (although it's never identified specifically). They are dropped off at their grandmother's house in the Little Town by their mother who lives in the Big Town. The novel is in the form of a journal written by the twins as an exercise. The twins perform "exercises" to numb their sensibilities and to create a capacity to suffer and make them totally unfeeling. They go begging not to obtain food but to test and observe the hypocritical reactions of the adults around them. They eliminate the word "love" from their vocabulary because it "is not a reliable word. It lacks precision and objectivity." They memorize the Bible. When the local priest, astonished, asks if they obey the Ten Commandments, they reply "Nobody obeys them. It is written, 'Thou shalt not kill,' and everybody kills."
Occasionally, they are touched by humanity. A cobbler gives them shoes because he sees they need them. The cobbler is later hauled away and shot ostensibly because he is Jewish. One is reminded of something Primo Levi said just before he committed suicide . Levi survived Auschwitz and has written extensively about the holocaust and its effects. He wrote about the survivors that they "were not the best, those predestined to do good, the bearers of a message.. .the worst survived, the selfish, the violent, the insensitive, the collaborators.. the spies." ([book:The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi])
This is not a book for the faint-hearted. It is graphic in its descriptions, depressing in its conclusions and reveals a world more depraved than [book:Lord of the Flies]. I will not reveal the ending which is horrifying in its implications.

( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ágota Kristófprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lautrup-Larsen, NinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wir kommen aus der Grossen Stadt.
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