Love at Last Sight: Dating, Intimacy, and Risk in Turn-of-the-Century Berlin

ISBN : 9780190917760

Tyler Carrington
264 Pages
164 x 242 mm
Pub date
Feb 2019
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In June 1914, a seamstress named Frieda Kliem left Berlin on a commuter train to meet the man she had fallen in love with through a newspaper personal ad. Instead of proposing marriage, the man lured her into the forest, murdered her, and stole the few valuables she had in her apartment. Through Kliem's story, Love at Last Sight examines the risk associated with modern approaches to dating and finding love in the turn-of-the-century metropolis. Using newspapers, diaries, police records, and court cases, it reveals the strangers, swindlers, and traditional middle-class values that threatened single people looking for intimacy in new ways. For most men and women, using modern technologies to seek romance-making an acquaintance on the street, pursuing a missed connection from a streetcar, or paying for a matchmaking service or personal ad-meant putting one's livelihood, respectability, and life on the line. Those attracted to the opposite and same sex alike experimented with these and other novel approaches, including looking for mates at their workplaces, apartment buildings, dance halls, and bars. In doing so, they navigated traditional and modern class and gender norms in search of financial stability and personal fulfillment. Love at Last Sight exposes the tensions of romance in the modern city as turn-of-the-century Berliners found the metropolis a place of new opportunities to find meaningful connections, as well as a site of isolation, alienation, and danger.


Chapter One: Romantic Fantasies in The Big City
Chapter Two: Urban Avenues to Love
Chapter Three: Reimagining Marriage
Chapter Four: Emerging Technologies of Love
Chapter Five: Modern Dating and Respectability on Trial

About the author: 

Tyler Carrington is Assistant Professor of German Studies and History at Cornell College.

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