This is a part of my work for lecture from university about ‚Jewish American Literature’


Representation of ‘memory’ in Nicole Krauss book

The History of Love”

(Analyze based on Alaida Assman “Memory” chapter)

The History of Love was wrote by Nicole Krauss and published at the beginning of 2005. It was her second novel. Her debut novel called Man Walks Into The Room. Both of them have a common elemen

t,memory‚, from one mind to another. In opposition to her earlier book ‚memory’ does not play an important element, but helps to make some significant creations in association to love. In introduction to Jewish American Literature A Norton Anthology (Chametzky, Felstiner, Flanzbaum, Hellerstein;2001; 3) mentioned:

“ ‘Jewish American Literature’ signifies an American literature that is Jewish: fiction, poetry, drama, memoir and autobiography (…) whether religious, historical, ethnic, psychological, cultural, textual, or linguistic.”

Most of these elements show up in Krauss’ book. The whole novel folds up from couple ostensibly regardless stories, about Jewish life in America after 1945.

At the beginning an author dedicates The History of Love her Grandparents, who taught her how to stay on top. It is suggestion about her strong relation to previous generation.

‚Memory’ contains a core for every identity. This element of humans life

an important influence on the life of people. When the people think about ‚memory’ they can see science like ‚psychology’, ‚sociology’, ‚political science’. All of them are influenced by memories. The whole original The History of Love is living literature memorandum full of examples, how people can collect their past and commemorate. Krauss’ book is very interesting novel full of memories, which present during different narrations and characters.

As a first reader familiarizes Leo Gursky. He is Polish emigrant, who escapes from Jewish exile. He is a representative of first Jewish generation in America, who escape from Nazis during World War II. Leo is an old man, who lives alone, without a family. As society ghost. His life is losing languish since couple years. No one knows Leo as writer, and the original creator of The History of Love. This main character tabbed for past. As a young man, he had to escape from country of his family to survive. He is simply to Alma Mereminski, got possibilities to start a new life away from Nazis. Leo never had a real family, his parent and siblings were killed by polish territory during the World War II. At the beginning, he had his cousin and Bruno, but they died. His had also memories about Alma who is his first true lover and the mother of his son. They had never been close enough to live like a real family, because she thought that Leo did not survive and she got married wi

th another man. This main character, in moment, when we got know him is about 80 years old.

He is just an old man for others in society, who is living his past and memories. His skills and his age can be threaten as the reasons why Leo is very good at writing obituaries. In his mind, he feels like needless object, closed and focuses only on his thoughts. Leo’s new unusual hobby discovered  Zvi Litvinoff ,a journalist worked as an obituaries writer in daily and friend. This same man, who  copied his friend’s book and published as his own. Anyways Leo is a real artist here. He commemorates people basic information on their profession and press articles about them. When Zvi discovered his friend activity was jealousy about his talent. Leo’s work is a typically example for commemorate people’s lives. The most surprising thing here was that he wrote his own obituaries. This work was published in the end of Krauss’ novel, because it was for them expression form and summary of Leo’s difficult life.

“THE DEATH OF LEOPOLD GURSKY (…) Leopold Gursky started dying on August 18, 1920 / He died learning to walk (…)/ He died alone, because he was too embarrassed to phone anyone. /Or died thinking about Alma. (…)/ He was a great writer./ He fell in love. It was his life.”(Krauss;255)

This is short form of memory about Leo, because if the reader starts reading from the end, they will get a reflection about main character and story of his life. What is ver

Bez tytułu

y interesting that he did not mention about Holocaust. He would only remember Alma and their love, but not the other fragments of his past. Of course, he mentioned about his and Alma’s family in the book as process healing from non-bleeding wound. This book could be Leo’s self-therapy with his trauma. In protagonist book’s are located also a ‚commemorate’ examples. In chapter Until Te Writing Hand Hurts Leo reminescences his childhood, uncle, who died when the protagonist was nine years old, school and Alma.

P.s. If you found some grammar mistakes or did not get a point, please write to me: I’m not perfect.




  • The History of Love. Nicole Krauss, Penguin Books,2006
  • Jewish American Literature. A Norton Anthology.  J. Chametzky, J. Felstiner, H. Flanzbaum, K. Hellerstein, General Introduction, 2001
  • Memory in Introduction to cultural studies. Alaida Assman, ESV, Berlin 2012

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