Chronology for selected events in "The History of Love"

Warning: Read the book first!  If you read this page before completing the book, that could significantly affect your reading experience. Also, please understand that this chronology is one person's opinion. Your opinion might be different.

Return to LAVA resources for The History of Love.

Background events

Leo, Alma (Mereminski) and Zvi are youngsters in Slonim in Eastern Europe just prior to World War II and the Holocaust. Leo also says that Bruno was there also, but he might not be reliable in this case.

Leo writes the manuscript of "The History of Love" (THOL).

Alma escapes to New York City, pregnant with Isaac by Leo.

Leo writes his own obituary, which Zvi keeps.

Leo copies eleven of the best chapters of THOL and mails them to Alma in NYC.

Leo gives the manuscript of THOL to Zvi, who escapes to Chile.

Leo eventually escapes to NYC also. He discovers that Alma has married and that he is the father of Isaac Moritz. Leo watches Isaac grow up from a discreet distance.

Alma never tells Isaac about his biological father, but she reads parts of THOL to him. Isaac finds other clues that lead him to suspect that his biological father was not the man his mother married.

At some point, probably after the Holocaust, Alma writes to Leo, saying, "When will you learn that there isn't a word for everything?"

In Chile, Zvi meets Rosa. Thinking that Leo is dead, he reluctantly publishes THOL in Spanish under his own name but with Leo's self-written obituary appended as the last chapter as a nod to the real author.

Gursky finds Zvi's address and writes him to ask for the return of the manuscript. Rosa, understanding the truth for the first time, hides the letter. She tells Leo that Zvi is ill and that the manuscript was lost in a flood. Then she creates a flood to destroy it.

David Singer, in a Buenos Aires bookstore, buys possibly the last remaining copy of THOL. (The bookstore was located near the home of Jorge Luis Borges, who wrote sometimes labyrinthine prose.)

Isaac becomes a famous writer.

Leo sits with the dying Alma in the hospital.

Leo releases his anger and "meets" the imaginary Bruno two weeks later. Sometimes they communicate by tapping.

Charlotte Singer translates a book of Spanish poems and happens to mention THOL in the introduction.

Isaac, under the pseudonym of Jacob Marcus, one of his own fictional characters, offers Charlotte a large sum of money to translate THOL.

Leo writes a new book called "Words for Everything." An article he read about Isaac had mentioned the typewriter that he used, so Leo had bought one just like it and used it to type this manuscript.

Events that happened during the last few weeks of the story

Leo mails the typed manuscript of "Words for Everything" to Isaac with no explanation.

Leo models for a Drawing in Life class. He talks with a girl, who is probably Alma Singer, as she leaves the building (from an earlier class?) Both show instant concern for the possible needs of a stranger.

Alma Singer follows clues in her mother's translation of THOL and discovers that Alma (Mereminski) Moritz is dead and that her son Isaac is a famous writer. She also discovers that Jacob Marcus is a fictional character in a novel by Isaac, which implies that Isaac is the person who requested the translation of THOL.

Alma travels to Isaac's house, but he doesn't answer the door (because he is dying in a hospital). She leaves a note with her phone number on the door.

Leo sees a newspaper article announcing that Isaac has died. Leo goes to his funeral and is invited to the home of Bernard, Isaac's half-brother, where he sees a photo of himself and Alma. Bernard says that Isaac believed that Alma was in love with that unknown man.

Leo breaks in to Isaac's house to retrieve the manuscript for "Words for Everything," but doesn't find it.

Leo discovers that parts of "Words for Everything" have been published in a literary magazine. He doesn't know that someone else found it in Isaac's house and presumed that it was written by Isaac.

Bernard reads the note that Alma left on Isaac's door and calls her, but Bird Singer talks to him instead. Bird misinterprets many things and mistakenly concludes that Leo is Alma's father. He decides to unite them.

Bird finds Leo in the phone book. He prints a copy of his mother's English translation of the Chilean version of THOL and leaves it at Leo's apartment. Leo tells us that "Bruno" left it under his pillow.

Bird sets up a meeting between Leo and Alma. He sends letters to both asking them to meet on a park bench.

Leo explains to Alma that Bruno is an invented character, that the real Bruno died long ago.

At the park bench, Leo and Alma communicate partly by tapping (perhaps because there aren't words for everything).