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History of Love

a book by Nicole Krauss

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Books have a fate too

  • May 14, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+1

Some good things can be said about this novel. It is a book about a book, which always puts me in a positive mood.

 

The title hero of this book, the book 'The History of Love', was written in Yiddish by a young man in love, in Poland at about the start of WW2; first published in Spanish in Chile by a friend of the original writer, a journalist refugee Pole in Valparaiso; one copy bought by an Israeli in Buenos Aires, who gave it to his English wife, who read it to their American children in New York; the mother translates it into English, and the English text somehow finds its way to the attention of now 79 year old retired locksmith Leo Gursky, who wrote it 60 years ago for Alma, who later became the mother of famous writer Isaac Moritz. The daughter of the translator is called Alma Singer. Maybe you hear the bell ring at this moment, the bell of allusions.

 

So we have history (WW2, Holocaust) and literature and love and fate. This is all very well, but: the plot is impossibly complicated. One might, in a bad mood, call it pretentious (some have done that).

Another flaw: the plot has two narrators, Alma Singer, 14, and Leo Gursky, 79. Both contemporary in New York. And both sound like teenagers. There may be system behind that, but it is not convincing. Let's face it, the narration sounds like 'young adult' fiction.

 

Should a young writer nowadays even try to tackle such a complicated and complex 'historical' subject? I have serious doubts about that. It is very hard to be 'original' about these subjects. There should be a very good reason to go there again. I do not see that very good reason in this case. And I am a friend of simplicity anyway. Making a plot more complex does not make it better.

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More The History of Love reviews
review by . July 15, 2010
Love of the The History of Love
I didn’t realize until after I read this that Nicole Krauss is married to Jonathon Safran Foer, but it makes so much sense because they have very similar writing styles. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been one of my favorites since I first read it and The History of Love follows suit. Both are incredibly well-written in a very alluring style.      There are a few different story lines that eventually converge at the end, but even before that as individual stories …
Quick Tip by . August 23, 2010
This is a book about loneliness, making ourselves visible, and seeking connections. The plot is more or less about the search for the author and a particular character of a long lost book, and in that search how the cast of characters intersects. For me the plot was secondary to the truly empathetic characters that inhabit this novel. I fell in lover with every one of them, and about halfway through was already sorry it would come to an end. I finished the book at night, in bed, and when I put it …
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
Great style of storytelling. I really enjoyed all the intertwined stories even though it was really confusing at first.
Quick Tip by . June 25, 2010
Love her style! I love the intertwining plots she and her husband, Foer, infuse into their writings.
review by . October 28, 2008
The History of Love
My Highest Recommendation This tale is woven together so masterfully it's nearly impossible to put down. The characters and their distinct voices are rich, unique, and memorable in a way that has worked into my own personal history of the love of reading. We begin by getting to know "the oldest man in the world," Leopold Gursky. There's an ironic aspect to "Leo" as he attempts to make himself known to the world everyday. He's afraid he'll die and no one will know he's missing. This is, perhaps, …
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ISBN-10: 0393328627 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780393328622 (pbk.)
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co
Date Published: May 17, 2006
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