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Letters of Abelard and Heloise

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  3,388 Ratings  ·  192 Reviews
[...]person every way so agreeable; so that he flattered himself that it was almost impossible * that any woman should reject his addresses. Perhaps he was mistaken: the sex has variety of humour. However, consider him as a philosopher who had therto lived in a strict chastity, he certainly reasoned well in the business of love; when he concluded that Heloise would be an e ...more
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Nov 12, 2010 Siria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, Peter Abelard. The only person in history to have become more of a dick because he lost his dick. (Though something tells me he was a pretty narcissistic jackass even before then.) As aware as I am that these letters are a wonderful historical source, rereading them only fills me with the urge to go back in time and punch Abelard in the neck. And then to take Heloise to one side, explain the concept of 'internalised misogyny' to her, fix her a strong drink and then talk her through why emoti ...more
Jan 10, 2016 7jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in Middle Ages, its religious life and this relationship
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Justin Evans
Mar 18, 2016 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite my interest in the middle ages, I avoided H&A 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 ...more
Feb 21, 2008 Dylan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Heidi Nemo
Jan 02, 2008 Heidi Nemo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval
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. But...still, what those letters reveal is a style of writing in Latin superior to Abelard's own, and
Viji  (Bookish endeavors)
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
Lada Fleur
Jul 23, 2014 Lada Fleur rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 marque
La theologie dont l'oeuvre est impregnee est la valeur de cette societe ou appartiennent les deux amants et amis comme poetes inspires
Apr 13, 2007 ruzmarì rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grenouille
It's hard for me to say "loved it" about these letters, because it's hard to peel the love story away from knowledge of Abélard's "misfortunes" (told with great pious self-pity in his "Historia calamitatum") and his subsequent spiritual domination, and then abandonment, of Héloïse. Also, I happen to like Héloïse a whole lot better, and so the preference makes for a lopsided reading. Still, the progression of affection between the two writers/lovers - from eros to caritas, to borrow papal termino ...more
Sep 25, 2011 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These letters, both dour and deeply sexual, austerely theological and yet deeply spiritual, are like nothing I've ever read and I doubt I'll ever encounter anything quite like them again. These letters are in a sense the "morning after" correspondence, the morning after an intense romantic partnership was separated by the medieval Catholic Church. I never thought I would read anything quite this sensual from a nun! The relationship between the Abelard, who after all was a great philosopher and B ...more
Aug 23, 2008 Traci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am almost finished with this one, and I have loved it. What a fascinating look into the middle ages and into one of the most interesting couples in history. I am biased toward Heloise and champion her ability to speak her mind to the man she loved, married, and became an abbess to please.
A revelation. Amazed that I haven't read these years ago.

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? Is my reaction the deliberate intent of Heloise who very probably was writing here not private correspondence for Abelard to read but letters and a correspondence designed to be hear by an audience and designed to have a partic
May 20, 2012 Bethan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great edition. Michael Clanchy's introduction is excellent, with good background of Heloise and Abelard's extraordinary story and their letters, in addition to scrupulous angles on various theories about authorship, exposition of some interesting feminism, notes on translations, and so forth.

As for the letters themselves, they were significantly more religious than I thought they would be, and there remained much to offend my feminism, but it is an interesting slice of a different tim
Feb 09, 2015 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Abelard is a dick and you cannot convince me otherwise.
Aug 22, 2011 Tessa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only reason I made it through this book was because it was required reading for my middle ages history course. The lecturer gave the impression that it was going to be a juicy medieval version of Romeo and Juliet, so needless to say I was kind of excited. By ten pages in I could already tell it was going to be a massive let down. The book is comprised of a number of original letters written by Peter Abelard, a 12th Century theologian/monk/total jerk, and Heloise, his long-suffering pupil/lov ...more
Jul 21, 2011 Yann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
J'ai beaucoup aimé. L'histoire d'amour est édifiante et les considérations théologiques sont instructives.
Brent McCulley
Abélard was a 12th century logician, philosopher turned theologian who is typically only remembered either for his moral-influence theory of the atonement, or his tragic love affair with Heloïse. This book recounts the latter including his autobiographical "History of my Misfortunes" along with letters of correspondence between the two after they had both joined monasteries.

It's all pretty tragic: erudite philosopher out philosophizing Christian realists with his conceptualism thereby incuring e
Nov 28, 2012 Terry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can read these letters over and over and always find something new. To really appreciate them, it's best if you spend some time learning the history of the period as well as the relationship between Heloise and Peter Abelard. The letters can and do stand alone as provocative and emotional epistolary exchanges, but understanding the sexual restrictions of 12th century upper-class women lend more to the understanding and appreciation of the thwarted passions expressed in each letter.

It's also im
Jul 13, 2010 Betsy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, history
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 07, 2009 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Teachers, Western Civ Students
Recommended to Michael by: Brandon Hunziker
Shelves: memoirs, feminism
This is a series of letters between two lovers of the early twelfth century. There are several aspects of these letter which are remarkable. First is that they exist at all - most written material of this period is long-since lost. The second thing is that Heloise was a woman who was well-educated enough to write, and indeed to engage in rather heavy intellectual discourse at this time. The third is that the tale of their star-crossed love ended in the emasculation of Abelard by Heloise's family ...more
I loved this book when I read it the first time back in the 90s, still do today.

What baffles me are all the incompetent and unsympathetic reviews that love to bash Abelard. Apparently the don't get what goes on with the male mind after the male in question has been castrated against his will. That's bound to leave physical and emotional scarring!
Jul 04, 2016 Simon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the book and got bored, it was a bit complicated. I'll read it when I'm older. Really liked the summary of the letters before (only read the summaries because text was medieval and complicated).
Mark Matzeder
I stumbled across a copy of The Letters of Abélard and Héloïse stuffed on a bookshelf in a closet in the house where I had been living over a decade. I did not buy it. It was not mine.
I had known of Pierre Abélard for several years. Abélard: medieval monk, philosopher, theologian, aristocrat.
Joseph Campbell cited Abélard’s perspective on atonement in the Bill Moyers collaboration, The Power of Myth. Through Campbell’s quick sketch I learned of Abélard’s love affair with Héloïse and the letter
María Clara
Mar 06, 2017 María Clara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: español, 2017
Ugggggh. OMG Qué estrés leer escritos medievales! Esta fue la mejor forma de acabar con esa imagen romántica que tenía de Abelardo y Eloisa. Abelardo era lo más egocéntrico de la vida y la boba de Eloisa no hacía nada.

Pero ya hablando seriamente, me impresionó demasiado los argumentos que tenían para explicar los aspectos más importantes de la sociedad de esta época. Todas las citas que aparecen son de filósofos o de santos y no es difícil entender porque la sociedad occidental es como es en est
Amy Heck
During the 12th century, the course of true love never did run smooth—particularly for Peter Abelard, a scholar with tremendous potential yet pugnaciously pursued by his opponents, and his student, Heloise. While Abelard had not taken religious orders to prevent him from marrying, it was the custom of scholars to remain unmarried so that they might fully pursue their intellectual life unhindered by the cares necessary in having a family. But when he met the brilliant niece of a wealthy patron, h ...more
Ma chronique sur le blog ici :
I must say that these letters were not quite what I had expected. That was because Abelard and Heloise didn't exactly live up to their reputation. I'm not sure how they ever ended up on the most-romantic-tragic-love-story-list. Don't get me wrong, I found the letters profoundly interesting on many different levels. A treasure for historians. Interesting character studies. But romantic? Not so much.

Abelard strikes me as too much of a narcissist to raise much sympathy for his misfortunes – especia
Jan 02, 2012 Sammy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating insight into Medieval life, "The Letters" are the real-life correspondences between Peter Abelard, an arrogant (and apparently handsome) monk and writer, and the beautiful young lady, Heloise, whom he seduced. Her subsequent pregnancy caused a scandal for them both, leading to her becoming the Abbess of a convent.

In truth, the story of these people is more interesting than the letters. Heloise is the more fascinating, as she clearly still has feelings, yet has begun to question th
I discovered that the audio version at Audible of The Letters of Abélard and Héloïse is only 33 minutes long! So you get only the letters and no additional commentary explaining them.

These letters are described in this way at Audible:

"The deepest currents of passion seldom break the surface of literature. Romantic classics abound; but however skilled a writer may be in verbalising an emotional experience, he cannot publicly evoke the heat of blood, the yearning of soul, bared in perfect intima
Jun 05, 2009 Carol rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval
Both Abelard and Heloise are good at expressing themselves (and the translation I am reading seems to be a good one -- it has many interesting explanatory footnotes).

I know I should not be so surprised, but I am finding Abelard to be nothing more than a total self-centered jerk and I find myself getting cross at Heloise for taking it from him. Admittedly I have only read his narration of his "troubles", which tells of their meeting, their romance, their secret marriage, his sudden castration by
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(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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“If the portraits of our absent friends are pleasant to us, which renew our memory of them and relieve our regret for their absence by a false and empty consolation, how much more pleasant are letters which bring us the written characters of the absent friend.” 98 likes
“Against the disease of writing one must take special precautions, since it is a dangerous and contagious disease.” 30 likes
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