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The Letters of Abélard and Héloïse This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Now here s a story it was difficult for me to see how I should categorise it, but then I decided that despite the last three letters, this wasabout these two people than just religious advice, anyway Anyway, these two a teacher and his student, both smart but Heloise with less troubles in life A story from 12th Century There is the letters, first Abelard s tale of victories and woe some of them his own fault then starts the exchange of letters between him and his former pupi Now here s a story it was difficult for me to see how I should categorise it, but then I decided that despite the last three letters, this wasabout these two people than just religious advice, anyway Anyway, these two a teacher and his student, both smart but Heloise with less troubles in life A story from 12th Century There is the letters, first Abelard s tale of victories and woe some of them his own fault then starts the exchange of letters between him and his former pupil and wife who is either about 11 or 31 years younger After letters come some of Abelard s hymns, letters between Heloise and Peter the venerable who protected very humiliated Aberlard in his last few years seems that Abelard was a better man now, finally and gave his body for Heloise s monastery to keep, plus helped with the future of Astralabe, Abelard and Heloise s son This all gives a view on the life of two people, love and crisis and faith.But before I talk about the letters, the background Abelard, of minor Breton nobility, becomes a teacher that is both respected and persecuted from the start as I ve said, some of it his own fault He lodges one time at a man named Fulbert s house, and meets this man s niece, Heloise He teaches her, it getsheated and there s much secret sex They secretly marry, she has their son, Astralabe and then things start to go wrong Abelard gets a bit paranoid teachers at that time aren t supposed to be married and hides her in a monastery Fulbert meanwhile thinks Abelard is considering breaking up the marriage and overreacts Abelard is castrated, and he and Heloise end up becoming a monk and a nun, permanently.Abelard gets in trouble for his opinions on the Trinity, from many directions, including St Norbert and St Bernard of Clairvaux one reason why the latter saint is so not my favorite, though he can write good stuff This is part of his tale of woe in the first letter.Ten years on, Abelard gives Heloise and a few other nuns a new monastery A while later Heloise gets to read Abelard s first letter, triggering her memories of their past love, and can t help but write him She expressed her shock at how badly Abelard s life has been going, and later is distressed at his thoughts of his coming death Her intelligence shows very well in all her letters, pretty much equal to Abelard s and later, Peter The Venerable s At first Abelard shows a little avoidance on past memories, but Heloise s increased distress at not being able to forget makes him talk , and explain that the punishment received was good for them, and gave them both a better life in the end she should concentrateon her current life and shake off bitterness.This seems to calm her, and in the next letters there s a move on towards desire for instruction, for the rule of St Benedict isn t quite fitting for her and her nuns And Abelard does give her good advice on how her monastery should conduct their life.Abelard, later on, falls into another accusation trial coming from his rival St Bernard, which doesn t go well for him, though he avoids being jailed Peter The Venerable gives him shelter for final years in his monastery, and admires Abelard s devoutness and conduct very much In Peter s letters to Heloise he also tells her he has known about Heloise s learning, and then piety, from almost the time of her marriage to Abelard.Yes, it s a story of a passionate love, strong opinions on faith, and being able to move on to a good life in faith and though we don t know all we don t know much about their son s fate after Peter The Venerable s attempt to help him get work , and we see what flawed people these two and a few other people involved can be the story remains interesting and good Plus if you have any interest in the religious side of story, it s pretty decent too Muchthan romantic a story, and quite satisfying Well worth reading Residents of the 21st century might best know Abelard Heloise from sultry references in The Sopranos Don t let the power of Edie Falco s acting fool you there is little pleasure or wisdom in this book, which should mainly be considered for its historical significance Today, the letters of Abelard and Heloise would better be fodder for an episode of To Catch a Predator.Peter Abelard was a terrible narcissist and an abusive boyfriend, one whose actions and writings are best understood in Residents of the 21st century might best know Abelard Heloise from sultry references in The Sopranos Don t let the power of Edie Falco s acting fool you there is little pleasure or wisdom in this book, which should mainly be considered for its historical significance Today, the letters of Abelard and Heloise would better be fodder for an episode of To Catch a Predator.Peter Abelard was a terrible narcissist and an abusive boyfriend, one whose actions and writings are best understood in that context The epistolarian s most important contribution was in the tradition of Augustine, Boethius, and the many other sexually frustrated men who inexplicably turn against their own bodies and attempt to renounce their human nature.Remember, it was only after being castrated for his transgressions against the teen aged and decades younger Heloise that the unfortunately named Peter piously renounced sex In a final act before becoming a monk, he used his tremendous power among the clergy to force his victim into a prison of her own Much of the two s correspondence involves Heloise s poignant cries for freedom and her desperate search for beauty and meaning in a world that was snatched from her by a disgraced man s spite Abelard, in response, gives the reader a chilling view into the bizarre mind games played by a manipulative, ego maniacal man intent on controlling his victim This is really the template for the culture of molestation that infected the church A revelation Amazed that I haven t read these years ago But perhaps you haven t heard the story of Abelard the brilliant young scholar, his student the clever Heloise, and how their proximity and appreciation of each other led to the conception and birth of their son Astrolabe This story has a savage turn as a group of monks assuming that Abelard had taken holy orders were enraged that he had violated the vow of celibacy which he hadn t taken and castrated him this was the time when the Chu A revelation Amazed that I haven t read these years ago But perhaps you haven t heard the story of Abelard the brilliant young scholar, his student the clever Heloise, and how their proximity and appreciation of each other led to the conception and birth of their son Astrolabe This story has a savage turn as a group of monks assuming that Abelard had taken holy orders were enraged that he had violated the vow of celibacy which he hadn t taken and castrated him this was the time when the Church had recently seriously pushed the concept of priestly chastity as a basic job requirement, then again perhaps Heloise s uncle had something to do with it, anyway newly castrated Abelard did what you did in such circumstances in twelfth century France, and persuaded Heloise to become a nun while he became a monk A brief exchange of letters survives between the two written some time after they separated to go into the monastic life, by which time Heloise had become an abbess There is something shocking about Heloise s passion so many years after their affair and equally something sad about the way in which Abelard evades it in his responses.But perhaps this is a literary correspondence For a long time one popular view was that Alebard was the author of all the letters, the reasoning for this was along the lines of nuns are not sexual beings, Heloise was a nun, indeed a mother superior therefore it would have been impossible to make any reference to sexually, therefore Abelard must have written all the letters Times have changed and it possible to allow Heloise her vivid expression of rather being a whore than a wife her expression in Latin isrhythmic, and plainly written with a view to sentence structure and elegance of expression without casting disrespect on the entire monastic institution.Still that idea played on my mind and it struck me that perhaps as per that argument that half the correspondence was forged, but by Heloise rather than Abelard, simply because she had the settled calm life and the time for such a literary exercise, also her letters are the better written easier to imagine her writing deliberately poorly to imitate him than Abelard somehow managing to excel himself and write better structured and logical letters in her name than he could in his own But the fifth letter inclined me against my own pet theory, it was so awful an unstructured rambling mess that it would be cruel to imagine that Heloise hated Abelard quite that much to pass it off as his work.However this is still a literary correspondence written I feel not as a private correspondence for Abelard to read personally but letters and a correspondence designed to be heard by an audience and designed to have a particular impact on their audience Listen, says Heloise to the nuns in her abbey, I am also spiritually weak and distracted by thoughts of secular life and secular love, therefore I devote myself all theto the discipline of a spiritual life Perhaps she rather hoped that her girls might be shocked by their Mother Superior s struggle to achieve freedom from secular ideals It is hard work becoming holy, we are only human after all Despite my interest in the middle ages, I avoided HA for a long time I was under the impression that it was all moaning about love and so on but no These letters are actually fascinating Two incredibly intelligent people, neither of whom I d want to spend too much time with, write to each other about their amazing lives famous philosopher gets castrated, hounded by church, hated by monks famous poet composer humanist falls dementedly in love, has a child with her lover, becomes powerf Despite my interest in the middle ages, I avoided HA for a long time I was under the impression that it was all moaning about love and so on but no These letters are actually fascinating Two incredibly intelligent people, neither of whom I d want to spend too much time with, write to each other about their amazing lives famous philosopher gets castrated, hounded by church, hated by monks famous poet composer humanist falls dementedly in love, has a child with her lover, becomes powerful abbess , but mixed in are very, very smart philosophical, theological, and social debates and discussions It would be the right thing to do here for me to complain about how Abelard was a misogynist and Heloise was a victim and how her fabulous emancipatory light has been hidden under his having a penis But if you read these letters with any care, you ll recognize Heloise for what she is someone who is simply too brilliant, and too strong willed, to live a life filled with anything but soap opera level drama Abelard is less recognizable as a type, in part because although he seems to have been just like Heloise when younger, he resist her attempts to engage in that kind of behavior in his later years Heloise might have beenoppressed, but Abelard certainly suffered , and that seems to have mellowed his brilliance and will Rather than Heloise as hero or Abelard as villain, these letters are definitive proof that the renaissance didn t spring fully loaded from the head of some ancient Greek statue HA both know and quote at length from the classics they both assume that secular learning is important they both conduct their lives as such These letters put paid to the silly belief of many historians of the early modern period that their period was the first time that anyone was an individual, or had a conflicted relationship with religion etc And they re just damn entertaining They re also enlightening Abelard s biography , the first letter, is a fine piece of life writing Heloise s request that Abelard compose a rule for the community she headed is deeply learned and hilariously precise essentially, her letter is an exercise in close reading of the Rule of St Benedict, showing just how unsuitable it is for women, in gloriously fine detail Abelard s rule is a perfect response excepting the residual weaker vessel nonsense There s a problem with this edition, though for some baffling reason, Abelard s letter to Heloise on the history of nuns is greatly abridged Why And if you don t find it odd enough to begin with, consider that it can t have been to save paper the book ends with a few anonymous letters from the period that some enterprising historian decided, for no particularly good reason, had also been written by HA Here s something from one of the original set of letters Who is there who was once my enemy, whether man or woman, who is not moved now by the compassion which is my due Wholly guilty though I am, I am also, as you know, wholly innocent It is not the deed but the intention of the doer which makes the crime, and justice should weight not what was done bu the spirit in which it is done What my intention towards you has always been, you alone who have known it can judge I submit all to your scrutiny, yield to your testimony in all things Thus, Heloise to Abelard introspective, philosophically sophisticated, conflicted Here s something from the unnecessarily appended Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard Since my mind is turning with many concerns, it fails me, pierced by the sharp hook of love Just as fire cannot be extinguished or suppressed by any material, unless water, by nature its powerful remedy, is applied, so my love cannot be cured by any means only by you can it be healed Thus, we re asked to believe, Heloise to Abelard ignorant lots of things extinguish fire , foolish if your love can t be cured by any means, then it can t be cured by Abelard , dull I guess at least we have evidence that even twelfth century people though not necessarily HA could write drivel under the inspiration of love If I could do it all over again, maybe I d read the Hackett volume, which includes some of the love letter drivel, but at least gives us all of Abelard s letter to compensate What is it about human love that makes it despicable in the sights of religion I started reading this book thinking I ll see love in its pure form in these letters But all I saw was hypocrisy and selfishness Heloise expressed her feelings truly in the first letter But in the next one,she seems much irked by Abelard s letter and her decision to wholeheartedly give herself to God doesn t seem a honest one I felt it as a lover s attempt to get some sort of communication from her beloved She What is it about human love that makes it despicable in the sights of religion I started reading this book thinking I ll see love in its pure form in these letters But all I saw was hypocrisy and selfishness Heloise expressed her feelings truly in the first letter But in the next one,she seems much irked by Abelard s letter and her decision to wholeheartedly give herself to God doesn t seem a honest one I felt it as a lover s attempt to get some sort of communication from her beloved She says,if it is words of heaven you can give me,give me that She is shattered by her lover s insensible behavioryou ought to have stopped my tears and you make them flow You ought to have quelled the turmoil of my heart and you throw me into greater disorder Her love for Abelard doesn t seem to be something that can be destroyed by human or divine intervention She can t even think of the mere possibility of forgetting her beloved In her despair she says,Death only then can make me leave the cloister where you have placed me and then my ashes shall rest here and wait for yours in order to show to the very last my obedience and devotion to you How it is that such a great devotion can be broken by an illness of body,especially when physical aspect of romance is the last thing on her mind I can t seem to accept that she had lost her feelings for Abelard when she wrote that As for Abelard,he seems as selfish as he can be His conflict of mind is visible in few parts of the letters,but other than that he is bothered only about his persecutions and his vocations He seems so much engrossed in himself that he can rarely think of what s going through the mind of Heloise Yet,at some point he says,I hope you will be willing, when you have finished this mortal life, to be buried near me Your cold ashes need then fear nothing, and my tomb shall be therich and renowned If he considered things of his past as misfortunes and actions against God,why think of such a thing Why want to be buried together when the love that held them together seems a wretched thing to him I started hating Abelard for his insensitivity to Heloise s feelings,for him talking only of himself,of resorting to matters of God when relief can be bought by consolations of human It s like him saying, Let s be buried together,for that d be real cool But if someone asks him what causes him to say this other than love,he d say, oh no Not love Love is something we should find in our relation to God We should give all our love to God Why this hypocrisy I can t understand this as a genuine conflict that occurs when one has to choose between human love and divine love The way he expresses it doesn t seem to give that impression Pleased or irritated,it was nice walking through the minds of these lovers Who am I to judge them,when I am another one with a conflict at heart Wasn t it Fitzgerald who said,There are all kinds of love in this world,but never the same love twice May be it was a love beyond my comprehension that they shared I hate Abelard, all his self congratualtory narcissistic bemoaning of his persecution, his admission that he beat and raped Heloise, his vastly younger pupil, until she slept with him willingly, his intellectual arrogance, his cruelty and refusal to take responsibility for his own words or actions.Also the fact that he himself published Heloise s letters makes the version we have highly suspect Butstill, what those letters reveal is a style of writing in Latin superior to Abelard s own, and I hate Abelard, all his self congratualtory narcissistic bemoaning of his persecution, his admission that he beat and raped Heloise, his vastly younger pupil, until she slept with him willingly, his intellectual arrogance, his cruelty and refusal to take responsibility for his own words or actions.Also the fact that he himself published Heloise s letters makes the version we have highly suspect Butstill, what those letters reveal is a style of writing in Latin superior to Abelard s own, and a mind of such intensity and acumen and passion that it overshadowed his For that glimpse of Heloise, ya gotta thank this asshole It was desire not affection which bound you to me, the flame of lust rather than love So when the end came to what you desired, any show of feeling you used to make went with it This is not merely my own opinion, beloved, it is everyone sHeloise to Abelard, Letter 1 I m not sure what criteria we should be using to rate documents like these letters readability historical interest I ve gone for a neutral 3 stars because I m not sure that a general reader looking for the in famous taleIt was desire not affection which bound you to me, the flame of lust rather than love So when the end came to what you desired, any show of feeling you used to make went with it This is not merely my own opinion, beloved, it is everyone sHeloise to Abelard, Letter 1 I m not sure what criteria we should be using to rate documents like these letters readability historical interest I ve gone for a neutral 3 stars because I m not sure that a general reader looking for the in famous tale of tragic lovers will necessarily find this of particular interest I was concerned with the ways in which Abelard uses Ovidian texts to support his narrative and its certainly striking that Ovid s Ars Amatoria and other secular classical texts like Lucan s Pharsalia are used alongside quotations from the bible and other religious and theological works as if there is no moral difference between them, a suggestive position in itself.To step back, though, this collection comprises Abelard s self pitying and self justifying Historia calamitatum, his autobiography detailing the envy Abelard s own brilliance inculcated in others, alongside his self lacerating tale of his seduction and affair with his young pupil, Heloise, which led to his castration by her uncle.Following this are a series of letters written between Abelard and Heloise, now an abbess but still deeply in self abnegating love for Abelard The authenticity of the correspondance has been disputed but the collection still tells us interesting things about gender, writing and desire, and the extent to which Ovid s Heroides operated as a model for women s writing in the twelfth century Of interest, too, is Heloise s bias against marriage, preferring the status of mistress, for various reasons which the letters propound.Definitely worth reading if you re interested in medieval French culture So let me begin by saying I appreciate these letters as a primary source yay, history , but on a purely personal level, eww because Abelard was a narcissistic dick I considered all the usual attractions for a lover and decided she was the one to bring to my bed, confident that I should have an easy success for at that time I had youth and exceptional good looks as well as my great reputation to recommend me, and feared no rebuff from any woman I might choose to honour with my love I pro So let me begin by saying I appreciate these letters as a primary source yay, history , but on a purely personal level, eww because Abelard was a narcissistic dick I considered all the usual attractions for a lover and decided she was the one to bring to my bed, confident that I should have an easy success for at that time I had youth and exceptional good looks as well as my great reputation to recommend me, and feared no rebuff from any woman I might choose to honour with my love I protested that I had done nothing unusual in the eyes of anyone who had known the power of love, and recalled how since the beginning of the human race women had brought the noblest men to ruin Even when you were unwilling, resisted to the utmost of your power and tried to dissuade me, as yours was the weaker nature I often forced you to consent with threats and blows.Etc.And no, you can t convince me otherwise And if anyone wants to try, DON T I really don t care If I had a time machine, I d pluck Heloise out of that cesspit of internalized misogyny The end The Story Of The Relationship Between Ab Lard And H Lo Se Is One Of The World S Most Celebrated And Tragic Love Affairs It Is Told Through The Letters Of Peter Ab Lard, A French Philosopher And One Of The Greatest Logicians Of The Twelfth Century, And Of His Gifted Pupil H Lo Se Through Their Impassioned Writings Unfolds The Story Of A Romance, From Its Reckless, Ecstatic Beginnings Through To Public Scandal, An Enforced Secret Marriage And Its Devastating Consequences These Eloquent And Intimate Letters Express A Vast Range Of Emotions From Adoration And Devotion To Reproach, Indignation And Grief, And Offer A Fascinating Insight Into Religious Life In The Middle AgesThis Is The Revised Edition Of Betty Radice S Highly Regarded Translation, In Which Michael Clanchy, The Biographer Of Ab Lard, Updates The Scholarship On The Letters And The Lovers This Volume Includes Ab Lard S Remarkable Autobiography And His Spiritual Advice To H Lo Se And Her Nuns, As Well As A Selection Of The Lost Love Letters Of Ab Lard And H Lo Se, Letters Between H Lo Se And Peter The Venerable, Two Of Ab Lard S Hymns, A Chronology, Notes And Maps L amour comme un devoir ou comme une tache a deux L amour comme une union des ames compatibles Des amants des amis et comme individu d une communaute L amour parfait epanoui, accompli Un des premiers amours en Occident, qui le marqueLa theologie dont l oeuvre est impregnee est la valeur de cette societe ou appartiennent les deux amants et amis comme poetes inspires


About the Author: Héloïse d'Argenteuil

b 1101, d 16 May 1164 Mistress of, and later secret wife of French logician and philosopher Pierre Abelard A lady of great learning who eventually married Abelard Abelard then prevailed upon her to wear a postulant s habit She rose to become prioress and eventually abbess of the Convent of the Paraclete which Abelard had founded.


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