Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Valentine Story of Ludwig and Margit von Mises

On this Valentine's Day, it's appropriate to read about the budding romance of Ludwig and Margit von Mises. This is excerpted from chapters 12 and 14 of Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism:

In 1925, Ludwig von Mises, entering his mid-forties, finally met the woman who would become his wife.

Margit Serény had been one of six guests at a dinner party held by Fritz Kaufmann, a young lawyer and member of Mises's private seminar. It is almost a miracle that Mises won the heart of the lady sitting next to him, for he spent most of the meal discussing economics. On the other hand, his preoccupation gave her the opportunity to observe him. This is how she perceived him:

What impressed me were his beautiful, clear blue eyes, always concentrated on the person to whom he talked, never shifting away. His dark hair, already a little grayish at the sides, was parted, not one hair out of place. I liked his hands, his long slim fingers, which clearly showed that he did not use them for manual work. He was dressed with quiet elegance. A dark custom-made suit, a fitting silk necktie. His posture indicated that he must have been a former army officer.

He talked to her after dinner, and they went to a dance club. Apparently Mises was a poor dancer — at least by Margit's standards — and so they spent most of the night talking. Actually she did most of the talking and he listened attentively. Margit was an attractive woman of five-foot-four, with brown hair and grey-blue eyes. Now, as they talked, he discovered she was also a witty and warm person. He must have fallen in love with her that evening. The next day, he sent her red roses and asked her out for dinner. It was the first of many such dinners over the next two years.

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