Recently, while researching the works of Ove Arup (1895-1988), I came across the following passages from Arup's personal diary about unrequited romance and lovesickness of such hilariously melodramatic proportions that I could not resist sharing them with you. I believe we all have a friend like this - I know I do - and if you believe you don't, you're probably that friend with all the lovelife drama.
These passages were taken from Peter Jones, Ove Arup: Master Builder of the Twentieth Century (2006). London, New Haven : Yale University Press, pp.28-41
Girl #1: Else Lorenz
"Else Lorenz was three years younger than Ove. They met almost daily throughout 1920, and corresponded energetically until he left for Hamburg. Ove and Elsa shared interests in piano playing, concerts and the theatre." (p.28)
Else's diary entry: “We had macaroni, frankfurters and fried eggs. Ove brought a bottle of white Bourgogne and the glasses from Berlin. We had an absolutely wonderful time and I was quite overjoyed, but of course the morphine was partly to blame for that.” (p.29, emphasis mine)
"In the same November , Ove pressed hard for a transfer from Hamburg to Paris … [he], nonetheless, was once again in a muddle. Another girlfriend had appeared on the scene, in succession to Else Lorenze. Her name was Elsebeth Juncker." (p.31)
Girl #2: Elsebeth Juncker
Ove's diary entry, 14th November 1923: "My chest hurts, it feels like shortness of breath and palpitations, a strange heaviness of heart. I wonder if this is what they call ‘a broken heart’? [...] I feel so terribly sad that Elsebeth is not fond of me. Because she isn’t, it’s no use imagining anything different. And most likely that won’t change, either. Of course, I’m constantly hoping, I just can’t help it. But it sure is foolish. After all, she doesn’t need me." (p.32)
Ove's diary entry, 21st November 1923: "I hear nothing from E. I suppose there is no doubt that I do not matter much to her. Que faire?"
Ove's diary entry, 22nd November 1923, possibly my favourite: "Every morning, I walk to the office hoping that there will be a letter from E. waiting for me; I also got palpitations when I arrive, but every morning my hopes are dashed – there is no letter . . . . [...] It is quite clear: If E. isn’t in love with me, she doesn’t need my friendship either – all that is just nice words. After all, I ought to know this from the case of Else."
Ove's diary entry, 23rd November 1923: "At least, the matter is finally concluded. The reason why E. didn’t write was a kind of cowardice, she didn’t dare tell me that she was living with someone else. Now we are through."
Eventually, Arup's friends have quite enough of his self-pity and one writes to him with some serious tough love:
From Grete Backe: "Now, Ove, I don’t understand you and your self-torture at all! You’re telling me that you have met a girl whom you like and who likes you, too. And you’re also saying that you have got yourself a piano. I should think these were two happy events. […]
PS. I’ve just read your letter once more. But I constantly have to shake my head in wonder! Dear Lord, that’s the matter with you? […] You end up destroying so much for yourself through this, why do you carry on in this way?” (pp.38-39)
Dear readers, do not feel too sorry for Arup: he met his wife in 1925, two years after the above events, and they stayed together for the rest of their lives. You should feel more sorry to his wife, because I am sure neither marriage nor age eases melodrama. Arup seems like a damsel who likes his distress.