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Love in “The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss

It is strange to observe how love may unite nations but at this set apart two people whose hearts it used to live in once. No less strange is the fact that, while love is all around us, there still remain people who are absolutely lonely and who suffer because of this. These sufferings often result in beautiful masterpieces when they are the expression of the artists’, writers’, and sculptors’ emotions. Love is perpetuated in the works of these people who share their love and, at the same time, their sufferings with others throughout the centuries. Love is the best inspiration for it is able to inspire people when it overfills their hearts, as well as when it breaks them.

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How come that love brings joy to some people and is an unbearable torture for the others? It seems that everything depends on the person’s attitude towards love, on his/her perception of it as the means of establishing connection with others. Love lives in the hearts of all the people, and all it takes is just to find the right way to it. Those people who claim that they do not believe in love simply misinterpret this concept for there are different kinds of love apart from the one between a man and a woman; this feeling affects people irrespective of age, ethnicity or religion and the stories about it, such as The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, are able to change the attitude towards it once and for all.

To begin with, it is often the case that love is discussed only in terms of man-and-woman relations with all its other forms being completely ignored. Perhaps, for some people, love for the opposite gender is the essence of life, and they cannot exist without feeling that passion which burns the person who is in love from inside. Indeed, this feeling seems to be vital because it gives people the sense of life. What about the other forms of love then? Can they be less important? Among these other forms of love are “love between parent and child, brotherly love, motherly love … self-love, and love of God” (Malakh-Pines xxiii).

These forms of love do not bring people passion, intimacy, or the like feelings, but they are also all about loyalty, devotion, and commitment; family love is the most valuable among them. Family love (which includes motherly, brotherly, and parent-and-child love) can be regarded as even more important than erotic love because this kind of love never vanishes or gets weaker. Love between parent and child is eternal; it can hardly be betrayed, but even if it is, its power is so strong that it always leaves place for forgiveness. Family love is perfectly illustrated in The History of Love by Nicole Krauss through the relations of Alma and her parents.

Alma had deep love for her father and kept this love in her heart long after her father died. She admired him and always tried to find similarities between them: “I am tall like my father. I am also black-haired, gap-toothed, skinny in a bad way […]” (Krauss 38). Mother-and-children relations are sometimes more complicated. Of course, mothers can never be blamed for this, but sometimes their love to their children is excessive. This was the case with Charlotte, Alma’s mother, who after the loss of her husband, dedicated her whole life to children and loved them so much that Alma, for instance, “always wanted to say, but never said: Love me less” (Krauss 43).

On the other hand, it is better to be excessively loved by your mother than not loved at all. Brotherly love, in its turn, is not as passionate as the love of parent and child. Siblings, irrespective of whether they are sisters, brothers, or brother and sister, love each other, though they do not talk about it often. Alma and Bird’s relations in The History of Love are typical for brother and sister; they care about each other, but they rarely say that they love each other. Therefore, different forms of love find different expressions in life.

Moreover, love is able to settle in the heart of a person, regardless of his/her age, ethnicity, language, or religion. Can a sixteen-year-old youngster be more in love than a sixty-year-old man? Is it possible that a Chinese is less capable of love than an African American? Can the Moslem’s love be less strong than the Christian’s? All these questions can be answered only negatively, because all people are equal in the face of love due to their having hearts able to love equally strong.

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Love never depends on age; moreover, age makes it only stronger because it allows differentiating between love and passion, love and mere affection, love and desire to put an end to loneliness, etc. What about love between an older and a younger person then? This question has a number of facets, but I for one still do not exclude a possibility that such love can be pure as well. The History of Love testifies to the fact that love is eternal; Leo Gursky, for instance, has carried his love to Alma throughout his all life. He has never forgotten the girl whose “laughter was a question he wanted to spend the rest of his life answering” (Krauss 11).

Even when Leo became older, he did not abandon his idea of finding the book about his love which disappeared during the flood. This shows how strong his love to Alma was and how much he wanted to preserve the memories about each day spent with her. I have no doubt that if Leo was of other ethnicity or religion, this would not have influenced the feelings towards his beloved. The History of Love also proves that love does not depend on language people speak; the most vivid example is that Leo’s book with his love story was published not only in Poland, his native country, but in Spain where it was translated into Spanish, and in England which saw the book’s English version. Thus, love does not depend on any external factors; it either does or does not exist.

Finally, stories about love open a new world in front of the readers, sharing with them all the beauties of this feeling and changing their perceptions of it. Love stories usually give a concrete example of how relations involving love, in any of its form, develop. These stories not only serve as a perfect illustration of love in reality but are able to teach the reader how to evoke love in somebody else’s heart and how to preserve it.

Love stories help the readers learn from other people’s mistakes and realize the true value of love. The History of Love is a unique story about love, because it has a love story within it. It begins with a story about little children who fell in love with each other and who planned to get married already at the age of ten. The story gradually overflows into the narration of the fourteen-year-old girl who was named after the character of the original love story and who loved it once she read it. The History of Love tells about love in all of its kinds; such stories as this “inspire the reader and evoke hope for love” (Schmidt 25) making him/her find love in every aspect of this life.

My personal attitude towards love changed after reading this novel. Just like everybody else, I mostly viewed love as a passionate feeling born in the hearts of two people and shared by them. I knew about other kinds of love, but I have never attributed special importance to them. Now I equally value erotic and family love, as well as friendship so well illustrated by the relations of Leo and Bruno, Alma and Misha, and a number of other characters.

This novel has taught me to value love, family relations, and friendship above all and never to give up on the way to my dream. I think that such stories as this one can teach people to love and can convince those who do not believe in love that it really exists.

In conclusion, love is one of the feelings which live in the hearts of all the people. Love has a number of forms and is expressed not only through man-and-woman relations but through the relations between siblings, as well as parents and children. The History of Love abounds with examples of such forms. It depicts all the complexity of the relations between Alma and her mother, her deep love to her father, and the typical form of love between her and her brother.

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Love affects all the people, and its power does not depend on age, ethnicity, or religion. Leo from The History of Love, for instance, though an elderly person, was still in love with Alma, who he had lost a long time ago. Lastly, stories about love teach people to value it; they depict different forms of lovemaking people believe that love exists and preserving it is the obligation of every person. Love is a powerful feeling and it opens only to those who truly believe in it.

Those people who reject love will never be able to feel all its beauties because it is namely through the sufferings that one realizes its value. However, the most important remains the fact that only the one who can love and whose heart is open to this feeling can be loved by the others.

Works Cited

Krauss, Nicole. The History of Love. London: W. W. Norton, 2005.

Malakh-Pines, Ayala. Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose. London: CRC Press, 2005.

Schmidt, Victoria. The Story Structure Architect: A Writer’s Guide to Building Dramatic Situations & Compelling Characters. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, 2005.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 11). Love in “The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Love in “The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss'. 11 November.

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