The title of a short novel by European author Agota Kristof, curiously translated from "Le Grand Cahier" (French). Originally published in Paris in 1986, it is the author's first novel. Grouped with The Proof and The Third Lie, its sequels, in later publications.

The notebook belongs to two unnamed twin boys in an unnamed East-European country during World War II, first allied with the Nazis, then conquered by the Russians and integrated into the Soviet Union. These details are never disclosed explicitly within the book, but can be worked out with ease. It retains its value, however, as an account pertaining to war in general, and not specifically to WWII. It also deals with the subjects of class discrimination, racism, childhood and human morals, through this main theme and independently of it.

The pair serves as a single unit, always, and communicates with the reader using the plural form throughout the entire book. They are quick, determined learners and never forget anything. They never make mistakes. To me, they represent the survival and evolution of an ideal throughout circumstances that obliterate the normal code of morality, and later on the individual. Be this the case or not, the book is heavily loaded with subtext.

The text consists of short essay tasks the twins assign to themselves, written in a simplistic, objective and factual manner very uncharacteristic of children. The language itself would've made a smooth, easy read, if not for the content which is often appalling either morally, sexually, or both.

The war is, of course, masked from the twins by a veil of words, or rather the lack thereof, but they perceive everything that happens around them nonetheless. This is not, therefore, a childish account laden with innocence and question marks, but rather with the insightful grasps of a pair unmolested by cowardice, dishonesty and ignorance.

The ending is brilliant.

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