The History of Love

You can’t help but fall in love with this book. It’s poetically beautiful. Krauss weaves the lives of several people together through different points of view , all of which revolve around one thing: The History of Love, a book written long ago. The book was given to Alma’s mother by her now dead father, and she is now translating it into English on the request of a wealthy man, whose life is also connected to the book in a mysterious way. The origins of this book are a mystery, one that Alma is trying to solve in order to help her mother’s grief. But what every character in this novel is really trying to find is the origin of love itself.

I can’t say much more about it, other than it’s beautiful.

Instead of folding down the corners of the pages I wanted to remember, like I normally do, I decided to put little sticky notes. Well, the book is now full of sticky notes, and these are some of my favourite lines:

“When I got older, I decided I wanted to be a real writer. I tried to write about real things. I wanted to describe the world, because to live in an undescribed world was too lonely.”

“At times I believed that the last page of my book and the last page of my life were one and the same, that when my book ended I’d end, a great wind would sweep through my rooms carrying the pages awa, and when the air cleared of all those fluttering white sheets the room would be silent, the chair where I sat would be empty.”

“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”

“There were rumors that Mr. Goldstein slept only an hour a night in the basement of the hul, that he had been in a labor camp in Siberia, that his heart was weak, that a loud noise could kill him, that snow made him cry.”

“She’s kept her love for him as alive as the summer they first met. In order to do this, she’s turned life away. Sometimes she subsists for days on waterr and air.”

“During the Age of Glass, everyone believed some part of him or her to be extremely fragile. For some it was a hand, for others a femus, yet others believed it was their noses that were made of glass.”

“During the Age of Silence, people communicated more, not less. Basic survival demanded that the hands were almost never still, and so it was only during sleep (and sometimes not even then) that people were not saying something or other. No distinction was made between the gestures of language and the gestures of life.”

“The mistakes were heartbreaking. And yet, because people knew how easily they could happen, because they didn’t go around with the illusion that they understood perfectly the things other people said, they were used to interrupting each other to ask if they’d understood correctly.”

“It’s possible I cried. What’ the difference?”

“Just as there was a first instant when someone rubbed two sticks together to make a spark, there was a first time joy was felt, and a first time for sadness. For a while, new feelings were being invented all the time. Desire was born early, as was regret.”

“It’s also true that sometimes people felt things and, because there was no word for them, they went unmentioned. The oldest emotion in the world may be that of being moved’ but to describe it - just to name it - must have been like trying to catch something invisible.”

“From time to time when a piece of music no one has ever written, or a painting no one has ever painted, or something else impossible to predict, fathom, or yet describe takes place, a new feeling enters the world. And then, for the millionth time in the history of feeling, the heart surges, and absorbs the impact.”

“So many words get lost The leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days you can hear their chorus rushing past: IwasabeautifulgirlPleasedon’tgoItoobelievemybodyismadeofglassI’veneverlovedanythingIthinkofmyselfasfunnyForgive me…”

“His room was tiny, and every morning he had to squeeze around the truth just to get to the bathroom.”

“Why do people always get named after dead people? If they have to be named after anything at all, why can’t it be things, which have more permanence, like the sky or the sea, or even ideas, which never really died, not even bad ones?”

1 Comment

  • By konfusedfae, January 22, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

    Those quotes are beautiful.

Other Links to this Post

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment