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Posted May 9, 2009
Letters of Abelard and Heloise
Betty Radice's now-classic translation of the letter exchange between Pierre Abelard and his former pupil/mistress/wife, now fellow monastic, Heloise, is unique evidence not only for their tragic affair but for the intellectual climate of Paris in the High Middle Ages. Abelard, maverick logician and theologian, is fully matched in a personal and philosophical battle of wits (and hearts) by Heloise, whose "ethic of intention" is as informed as his, and more deeply felt. An introduction by Betty Radice and article by Michael Clanchy enhance this already-delightful letter collection.
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Posted November 27, 2000
Teenagers would find this book oddly reassuring
I read this book as a text a year ago for a medieval history course. A friend told me that she was reading it, so I feel compelled to summarize it for those who haven't read it yet. Abelard was a French theologian whose methodology was diaclecticism: a method of synthsizing two contradictory ideas. He tutors the niece of the cathedral chapter'a headmaster and seduces her. Their study sessions are more about their lovemaking than schoolwork. Their affair is discovered when the headmaster bursts into their room. In an act of reprisal, the headmaster castrates Abelard. Yet he doesn't lose his libido. Heloise is still in love with him even though she is sent to a nunnery. The book is a collection of letters describing the consequence of their affair: teen pregnancy and their relationship afterwards. Abelard's inability to balance his love life with his career is a source of reassurance for those of us who have shared his problem. Heloise's letters reveal a brilliant woman whose greatness is limited by her attachment to her former lover. Teh book deals with issued all relevant to our own lives, and a teenager would surely feel less lost and alone after reading these collection of letters.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.