Loneliness and Love in Nicole Krauss' "The History of Love"

Essay, 2006

15 Pages



1. Introduction

2. Biography
2.1. The author’s life
2.2. Her works

3. Plot and Character overview
3.1. Summary
3.2. Character chart

4. Loneliness and Love
4.1 Alma
4.2. Leo Gursky
4.3. Minor characters

5. Conclusion “Why Loneliness cannot be without Love and Love not without Loneliness” in The History of Love


1. Introduction:

This is a proseminary work for a literature course and it is about The History of Love. The contemporary American novel is written by Nicole Krauss and was published in 2005. By now it has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. (Krauss back cover)

The paper will start with the biography of the author and her connection to the novel and to its content. The next and main chapters will then deal with the novel itself, which takes place in New York in the time after the 2nd world war and which is told through various stories, perspectives and characters. The paper’s focus will lie on two very important and story-defining themes: Loneliness and Love. The main question of this paper will be in which way Loneliness and Love belong together and how this inextricable connection is portrayed in the book. This will further be pointed out through the relationship and personality of chosen characters (Alma and Leo Gursky). To make it more understandable a short plot and character overview will be given at the beginning of the paper.

The paper will be ended by a conclusion, which sums up all results of my research and analysis and which gives answers to the main question of this paper.

2. Nicole Krauss’ Biography:

2.1. The author’s life:

Nicole Krauss was born in 1974 in New York. She studied English Literature at Stanford University, California and at Oxford University, England. Besides that she received a degree in art history from the Courtauld Institute in London. During her studies she started publishing some of her earliest poems in various British magazines. She also did a BBC radio documentation and organized many readings, where also some famous authors took part (Osterwald). Nowadays, she is married to Jonathan Safran Foer (Wikipedia Krauss), who is also a famous American novelist and author of e.g. Everything is Illuminated or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Wikipedia Foer).

Krauss has Yiddish grandparents from Europe (Hungary, Poland, Germany and White Russia) (Reading Group), who were able to flee before the war. But she also has some relatives, who fell victim to the Holocaust. Due to that, topics like memory or identity are very important to her and she deals with them in her two novels (Osterwald).

2.2. Her Works:

- Various poems, published in magazines
- “Future Emergencies” (2002). The shortstory is part of the anthology “Best American Short Stories
- Man Walks into a Room (2002)
- The History of Love (2005)

3. Plot and Character Overview:

3.1. Summary:

The History of Love combines three stories in one novel. All these stories, which are told by different narrators, have one thing in common: a book. The book in the novel is also called “The History of Love”.

The first story is about Leo Gursky, a lonely old man from Poland, whose greatest fear is too die alone and unrecognized. He is the original author of “The History of Love”, the book he dedicated to the love of his life – a girl called Alma. After the 2nd world war he follows her to America, only to find out that she is already married to another man. Since that, he never fell in love again and he also lost the book, the story of his love.

The second story deals with Litvinoff, who actually is a friend of Leo from Poland. He found the book and takes it with him to South America. There he meets his wife, Rosa. Believing that Leo died during the war, he pretends that the book is his and gives it to his wife. Together, they translate it form the original Yiddish version into Spanish and publish it under Litvinoff’s name.

The third story starts with David Singer, who sees the book years later in an old store in Buenos Aires and buys it because he is so fascinated by it. He also gives it to his wife, Charlotte, and they name their daughter after the girl form the book – Alma. When Alma is a little girl, David dies and Charlotte is left alone to raise Alma and her little brother. In order to survive she starts translating books and one day she is asked to translate “The History of Love” from Spanish into English. Alma then sets out to find the man (Jacob Marcus aka Isaac Moritz) who asked her mother to translate the book in order to find a new husband for her. During that, she has to trace the story of the book back to its source and finds out that Leo Gursky is the only living person connected to this book.


Excerpt out of 15 pages


Loneliness and Love in Nicole Krauss' "The History of Love"
University of Innsbruck
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Loneliness, Love, Nicole, Krauss, History, Love
Quote paper
Elisabeth Kuster (Author), 2006, Loneliness and Love in Nicole Krauss' "The History of Love", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/115371


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