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“The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss


How does the theme (love) provide a deep sense of interweaving between individuals otherwise unknown to one another?

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An eminent philosopher once said that human is a social animal. Indeed, people are rooted in society from the moment of their birth. They develop inside its ties, its relations, and form their relations; their character and all their life are formed by it and depend on the whole of it. The ties of society are various; some of them are stronger, others are weaker. But in some cases, relations that may at first glance look accidental and secondary prove to be a determinant of people’s lives. The History of Love, a 2005 novel by Nicole Krauss, provides an example of such relations.

An Initially Unimportant Relationship

The whole book is built around the theme of love between two people, Alma Mereminski and Leopold “Leo” Gursky. Leo’s love towards Alma was captured in his book The History of Love (which, incidentally, makes the name of the novel ambiguous: it refers more to the book by Leo than to the plot of Krauss’ novel). Leo and Alma were not fated to be together. But Leo’s book, a product of his love, got the eye of a woman who even named her daughter after The History of Love’s main character. It is how Alma Singer first becomes tied to Alma Mereminski and Leo. This relation seems to be completely accidental and unimportant; people sometimes are named after book characters, and nothing extraordinary happens.

The Course of Events

Things change when Alma Singer’s mother gets an offer to translate The History of Love into English and Alma Singer decides to investigate the matter, find out who her mother’s client is, and, as a result, find Mereminski. From now on, the life of Alma (and, consequently, the life of her relatives) is firmly tied with Alma Mereminski and Leo.

Through much effort, Alma Singer manages to find the home of Alma Mereminski (now Moritz). After her long endeavors, she comes to her house, worrying “What if Alma– the real, live Alma–answered the door? What was I supposed to say to someone who’d walked off the pages of a book? Or what if she’d never heard of The History of Love? Or what if she had, but wanted to forget it? I’d been so busy trying to find her that it hadn’t occurred to me that maybe she didn’t want to be found” (Krauss 37), only to find out that Alma Moritz died five years ago. It seems to Anna Singer that this tie led to nowhere.

Nevertheless, the story is not over. Alma Singer’s younger brother Bird also becomes involved in the matter, and, after some consequent events, he arranges a meeting between his sister and Leo Gursky. Leo confuses her for his former love’s vision at first, but then realizes she is a different person. This meeting, even though it happened at the end of his days, influences him deeply. “I felt my heart surge… I wanted to say her name aloud, it would have given me joy to call, because I knew that in some small way it was my love that named her,” Leo tells us (Krauss 49).


This is how Leo’s love towards Alma Mereminski changed the course of life of people otherwise not related altogether. Alma Singer, having a completely accidental relation to Leo’s love, spends a great amount of time and effort to find the person she has been named after. During her search, many people she is connected to become involved in the matter.

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Of course, this is not the kind of social relationship that forms a person’s whole being. But it does become a determinant of the characters’ lives and ties together people who are otherwise unknown to each other. Alma Singer’s brother, the half-brother of Leo’s son, and, finally, Leo himself all become knit together due to an unrealized love between two people who became separated due to historical events many decades ago.

Work Cited

Krauss, Nicole. The History of Love. n.d. Web.

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