‘Alles Andere ist jetzt eben nichts mehr. Bist du ja jetzt meine ganze Welt.’

An unedited love correspondence from the nineteenth century: an analysis.


  • Piera Mazzaglia


This paper relies on an unedited and unpublished nineteenth century love correspondence of a heterosexual couple from the German speaking area. The aim of this study is to contribute to the knowledge regarding the nineteenth century love experience of ordinary and unknown lovers. In fact, while there are plenty of books on love correspondences of famous personalities, little research has been dedicated to love letters and romantic experiences of ‘ordinary and unknown’ people. For this reason the main aim of this article is to shed light on love stories and love experiences that otherwise will fall into the abyss of oblivion.

A new theory regarding the love experience in the nineteenth will be proposed: in this century love was perceived more in its material than in its abstract nature; I argue that in the nineteenth love was more about what people did, than to what they said. Lovers are in constant need of material and ‘seeable’ proof in order to perceive the love of their partners as real and authentic. The examples extrapolated from the following correspondence will corroborate this statement. Furthermore, this article has the purpose to underline the great value of love letters not only from an historical perspective (being evidence of past lives and dynamics), but also and more importantly from a cultural and societal one: analyzing love letters means to acquire knowledge not only about cultural and societal dynamics, but also and more importantly to add knowledge to the love discourse. In fact, they say a lot about the way people talked, expressed and materialized love in their daily lives. Correspondences without any publication in view are the most precious ones because they represent an unregulated and more spontaneous expression ‘of the language of the heart’.


Key words: love letters, materiality of love, material culture, practice theory,epistolary culture, intimacy, nineteenth-century letter writing, romantic love, nineteenth-century courtship, sensory history.