Browse Reading Guides


Reading Group Guide

  1. Book ImageThe History of Love: A Novel

    Nicole Krauss

    ONE OF THE MOST LOVED NOVELS OF THE DECADE.

    A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother’s loneliness.

     

Discussion Questions

  1. Leo Gursky and Alma Singer make an unlikely pair, but what they share in common ultimately brings them together. What are the similarities between these two characters?
  2. Leo fears becoming invisible. How does fiction writing prove a balm for his anxiety?
  3. Explore the theme of authenticity throughout the narrative. Who’s real and who’s a fraud?
  4. Despite his preoccupation with his approaching death, Leo has a spirit that is indefatigably comic. Describe the interplay of tragedy and comedy in The History of Love.
  5. What distinguishes parental love from romantic love in the novel?
  6. Why is it so important to Alma that Bird act normal? How normal is Alma?
  7. When Alma meets Leo, she calls him the “oldest man in the world.” Does his voice sound so ancient?
  8. Uncle Julian tells Alma, “Wittgenstein once wrote that when the eye sees something beautiful, the hand wants to draw it.” How does this philosophical take on the artistic process relate to the impulse to write in The History of Love?
  9. Many different narrators contribute to the story of The History of Love. What makes each of their voices unique? How does Krauss seam them together to make a coherent novel?
  10. Survival requires different tactics in different environments. Aside from Alma’s wilderness guidelines, what measures do the characters in the novel adopt to carry on?
  11. Most all of the characters in the novel are writers—from Isaac Moritz to Bird Singer. Alma’s mother is somewhat exceptional, as she works as a translator. Yet she is not the only character to transform others’ words for her creative practice. What are the similarities and differences between an author and a translator?
  12. What are the benefits of friendship in the novel? Why might Alma feel more comfortable remaining Misha’s friend rather than becoming his girlfriend?
  13. The fame and adulation Isaac Moritz earns for his novels represent the rewards many writers hope for, while Leo, an unwitting ghostwriter, remains unrecognized for his work. What role does validation play in the many acts of writing in The History of Love?
  14. Leo decides to model nude for an art class in order to leave an imprint of his existence. He writes to preserve the memories of his love for Alma Mereminski. Yet drawings and novels are never faithful renditions of the truth. Do you recognize a process of erasure in the stories he tells us?
  15. Why might Krauss have given her novel the title The History of Love, the same as that of the fictional book around which her narrative centers?

About Nicole Krauss

Nicole Krauss has been hailed by the New York Times as “one of America’s most important novelists.” She is the author of the international bestseller Great House, a finalist for the National Book Award, and Man Walks Into a Room. Her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages.

Books by Nicole Krauss

  1. Book CoverGreat House: A Novel

    Finalist for the 2010 National Book Award in Fiction
    Winner of the 2011 ABA Indies Choice Honor Award in Fiction
    Winner of the 2011 Anisfield-Wolf Award
    Shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize in Fiction

    A powerful, soaring novel about a stolen desk that contains the secrets, and becomes the obsession, of the lives it passes through.More

  2. Book CoverThe History of Love: A Novel

    ONE OF THE MOST LOVED NOVELS OF THE DECADE.

    A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother’s loneliness.

     

    More