Books Magazine

Agota Kristof’s Trilogy of Novels: Remarkable Fiction on Loss, Identity and the Traumatic Impact of War

By Bobbygw @bobbygw

Agota Kristof - book cover for her trilogy of novelsWritten by an unreliable narrator, the first part of this trilogy, The Notebook, won two prestigious European literary awards and was Hungarian writer Agota Kristof’s debut novel, published when the author was 51. It is, along with The Proof and The Third Lie, astonishing and brilliantly written in the tone of a moral fable. All the novels use beautifully simple, even clinical, language, from a first person viewpoint. What’s remarkable about them is the pure clarity of voice and language and – most importantly – morals without sentimentality, and the rejection of conventional, socially conformist behaviour.

With the onslaught of WW2, in an unnamed Hungary, identical twin brothers C(K)laus and Lucas record an ‘objective’ narrative of each day or days of significance that each agrees must be dependent solely on fact. This means that the brothers destroy any daily account that reflects judgement, whether implied or explicit, whether emotional, moral or even tonal in the words they use.

Only once they approve the best version of the day’s events, do they commit one as the permanent record of that day, to be written up in the Notebook.

Their purity of purpose and determination to lead lives grounded in their own way, extends to them deciding to strip themselves of emotion as they learn to disregard and be invulnerable to the devastating consequences of war. They also choose to act on occasion in ways that threaten and harm those who harm others, and always based upon their own distinctive, yet always logical, moral code. As a metaphor for the impact of war on children it’s a powerful and compelling one.

The more you read, the more troubling the stories of each novel, yet the more enriched and nuanced the overall story becomes.

The novels don’t shy away from the impact of war, psychological, social or physical. Limbs and people destroyed, antisemitism wreaked, loved ones blown apart. Life goes on, but always the factual narrative strips life of value and meaning as the war dehumanises and devastates. While the brother(s) survive(s), it’s clear not in any meaningful way living. There’s no joy felt or shared, no relief described, no coming to terms. The tone becomes ever more despairing and melancholic, as WW2 transitions into what is clearly meant to be Russia’s occupation of the country.

To describe the plots would be to undermine the intensity of loss, sadness, disorientation and trauma of war inflicted upon the narrator(s). What matters most is the extraordinary perspective of the brothers/unreliable narrator. It’s a troubling, powerful, moving story, driven by conflict, often disturbed and disorientating. It never resolves, which, given the subject of war and loss, is surely a morally honest conclusion and one free from false sentiment. Utterly compelling (especially The Notebook), the trilogy is highly recommended for lovers of great, modernist literature.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Low-carb and Keto Hamburgers

    Low-carb Keto Hamburgers

    Everybody loves a good burger. So do we! Such a deliciously easy way to feed a family with little effort and big taste. Savour all the twists and turns a... Read more

    The 19 July 2018 by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Booker’s Bourbon BBQ Batch Review

    Booker’s Bourbon Batch Review

    Booker’s Bourbon BBQ Batch is the latest release in the venerable Booker’s line which always has been, and continues to be, in my upper pantheon of killer... Read more

    The 19 July 2018 by   Josh Peters
    DRINK
  • Winephabet Street M is for Mencia

    Winephabet Street Mencia

    Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 13. Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and myself work our way through the... Read more

    The 19 July 2018 by   Hvwinegoddess
    DRINK, FOOD & DRINK
  • Luce Unplugged: ParkSnakes

    On Friday, July 20, the Luce Foundation Center hosts another installment of the Luce Unplugged Community Showcase from 6-8 p.m. Presented with Washington City... Read more

    The 19 July 2018 by   Americanart
    ART & DESIGN, CULTURE
  • Ski Mountaineer Hilaree Nelson Replaces Conrad Anker as North Face Team Captain

    Mountaineer Hilaree Nelson Replaces Conrad Anker North Face Team Captain

    Interesting news from the world of outdoor gear and exploration, as the Gear Junkie is reporting that ski mountaineer and all-around badass Hilaree Nelson is... Read more

    The 19 July 2018 by   Kungfujedi
    OUTDOORS
  • Valuable Commentary on National Prayer Breakfast and Treasonous Behavior of GOP...

    Valuable Commentary National Prayer Breakfast Treasonous Behavior Leaders: "#Nationalprayerbreakfast Over Affidavit Russian Maria Butina"

    If you want to understand the Russian connection to U.S. right-wing white evangelicals — who are absolutely on board with treason to achieve their goals — you... Read more

    The 19 July 2018 by   William Lindsey
    LGBTQ, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Meatopia and Craftopia Line up Announced

    Meatopia Craftopia Line Announced

    36 total views, 36 views today Craftopia and Meatopia – Breweries Announced Meatopia and the amazing beer writer Melissa Cole have announced the breweries takin... Read more

    The 19 July 2018 by   Emma
    DESTINATIONS, DINING OUT, FOOD & DRINK

Magazines