List of Characters

Leopold Gursky—one of the main narrators and the author of The History of Love.

Bruno—a friend of Leo's who lives upstairs or possibly a figment of Leo's imagination.

Alma Mereminski Moritz—the woman Leo has loved all his life.

Mordecai Moritz—the man Alma married when she was pregnant with Isaac.

Isaac Moritz—Leo's and Alma's son.

Bernard Moritz—Alma's and Mordecai's son.

Charlotte Singer—Alma Singer's mother, a translator of books.

David Singer—Alma Singer's father.

Alma Singer—the other main narrator.

Emanuel Chaim "Bird" Singer—Alma Singer's younger brother.

Uncle Julian—Charlotte Singer's brother who lives in Israel.

Aunt Frances—Julian's wife.

Misha Shklovsky—Alma Singer's Russian pen pal and boyfriend.

Zvi Litvinoff—Leo's friend who translates The History of Love into Spanish.

Rosa—Litvinoff's wife.

Miriam—Litvinoff's sister, killed by Nazis.

Jacob Marcus—Isaac Moritz's pen name when he writes to Charlotte and asks her to translate The History of Love.

Character Analysis

Leo Gursky is a hilarious character that lives in his own world. When he gets lonesome, he goes out and creates a commotion in order to get attention. It is not clear, but it also seems that his upstairs neighbor, Bruno, might be a figment of Leo's imagination, created by Leo to give him a sense that someone "out there" knows him. Although Leo clearly has a sense of humor, he constantly thinks of his death. He wonders where he will die and who will be the first to discover his body. He keeps a note card in his pocket that has his name one it and the name of the cemetery where he has purchased a burial plot.

He is also rather easy-going and totally committed to his first love, Alma, and to their child, Isaac. Leo is easy-going in the sense that he rarely insists on anything. He does admit that he cries too easily, however. His commitment to Alma is demonstrated in the fact that he never marries. His love for Isaac is displayed when the only reaction he shows when Isaac publishes one of Leo's stories under his (Isaac's) name, Leo is ecstatic. Leo has no problem with the fact that his son has stolen the story. Rather, Leo is pleased to have proof that Isaac has read his manuscript and must therefore know that he is his real father.

These traits make Leo a very loveable character. He has suffered a good deal. He lost his whole family to the Nazis. He lived a desperate life for three years, eating rats to stay alive as he hid from the German army. He had his heart broken when he found out that Alma has married someone else and will not leave her husband for him. He respects his son's privacy and does not tell Isaac that he is his father until Isaac is a grown man. In the final scene, when Leo is so choked up with emotion that he cannot speak to Alma Singer, his two pats on her back are filled with emotion. Readers know that this is the signal he has with Bruno to mean that he is still alive.


(The entire section is 530 words.)