Study Guide

The History of Love Literature-Writing

By Nicole Krauss


The History of Love is a book about… a book, so you'd better believe literature is going to be important here. It explores the ways in which literature manages to both unite and divide, connect and isolate, comfort and infuriate. In an interview about The History of Love, Krauss said, "Yes, almost everyone in the novel is a writer of some kind or another. Some of their books have never been read, some have been lost, some are written in journals, some published under the wrong name." There you have it, then. As one of the four big L's of the novel (the other three being loneliness, language, and love), literature is a big part of what makes this book tick.

Questions About Literature-Writing

  1. Alma has a very difficult time expressing herself vocally (see, for example, 10.7). Is this why she prefers written communication—most especially in writing this book? How does this compare to Leo's motivation to write?
  2. What do you think of Litvinoff's reaction to finding Leo's stack of obituaries? Should he be threatened that his friend is writing obituaries too? Or appreciate the bond between them?
  3. Compare Alma's mother's task translating The History of Love into English to Litvinoff's plagiary and translation of the text into Spanish. How are they similar and how are they different?
  4. Is it significant that Alma's father describes himself as a poor writer and "did not like to write letters" (5.1)?

Chew on This

In The History of Love, writers of literature are unavoidably separated from others. So, despite the happy ending, Alma and Leo will not be able to create a real relationship. (Sorry to break it to you like this.)

Although Leo's books have helped bring other people together, they have only succeeded in making him feel more abandoned.