more From the outside, with its red cover and an arrow-toting Cupid in high heels, Moira Weigel’s new book, “Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 304 pages), looks like a summer beach read.You can still lose yourself in its pages, but heads up: It’s an academic examination of dating.At a festival honoring Juno, 5th century Roman soldiers would draw names of eligible women to see who would be their lucky bedmate for the year.Once chosen, the man would wear her name on his sleeve for the festival.Matrimonial agencies were big business there by the early 18th century, printing ads on behalf of men who paid the agency to recruit them a good wife.
Taboo or not, the practice certainly isn't new.
During Lupercalia, an ancient Roman festival during the first century, Romans would sacrifice a goat and dog, and then whip the women with the hides.
The women willingly lined up, believing this would boost fertility.
While every generation will lament anew the fact that finding love is hard, history seems to indicate that this particular social ritual never gets any easier or less exciting.
In , a new book documenting the history of dating in America, Moira Weigel, a Ph. candidate in comparative literature at Yale University, confirms this lament: Since dating was “invented,” it has always been an activity that required a lot of effort.