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New Revelations about One of the Greatest Romances in History Peter Abelard was arguably the greatest poet, philosopher, and religious teacher in all of twelfth-century Europe. In an age when women were rarely educated, Heloise was his most gifted young student. Their private tutoring sessions inevitably turned to passion, and their moments apart were spent writing love let New Revelations about One of the Greatest Romances in History Peter Abelard was arguably the greatest poet, philosopher, and religious teacher in all of twelfth-century Europe. In an age when women were rarely educated, Heloise was his most gifted young student. Their private tutoring sessions inevitably turned to passion, and their moments apart were spent writing love letters. Astoundingly, a few years ago a young scholar identified 113 new love letters between the pair which, combined with the latest scholarship, present us with the richest telling yet of the couple's clandestine passion - a story that is erotic, poignant, and at times even funny.


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New Revelations about One of the Greatest Romances in History Peter Abelard was arguably the greatest poet, philosopher, and religious teacher in all of twelfth-century Europe. In an age when women were rarely educated, Heloise was his most gifted young student. Their private tutoring sessions inevitably turned to passion, and their moments apart were spent writing love let New Revelations about One of the Greatest Romances in History Peter Abelard was arguably the greatest poet, philosopher, and religious teacher in all of twelfth-century Europe. In an age when women were rarely educated, Heloise was his most gifted young student. Their private tutoring sessions inevitably turned to passion, and their moments apart were spent writing love letters. Astoundingly, a few years ago a young scholar identified 113 new love letters between the pair which, combined with the latest scholarship, present us with the richest telling yet of the couple's clandestine passion - a story that is erotic, poignant, and at times even funny.

30 review for Heloise & Abelard: A New Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Three days ago all I knew almost nothing of this couple whose names are famously linked. I knew that they lived in the Middle Ages and wrote philosophical letters. Now I know their story and how it illustrates the punishment in store for those who step outside the strict sexual mores of the times. The focus of the book is on Abelard. He is a teacher, logician and writer of treatises, poems, books and hymns. While he was a very popular teacher, he must have a severe personality problem because whe Three days ago all I knew almost nothing of this couple whose names are famously linked. I knew that they lived in the Middle Ages and wrote philosophical letters. Now I know their story and how it illustrates the punishment in store for those who step outside the strict sexual mores of the times. The focus of the book is on Abelard. He is a teacher, logician and writer of treatises, poems, books and hymns. While he was a very popular teacher, he must have a severe personality problem because wherever he went he created enemies. He relies on his patrons to help him find or found a new school when he wears out his welcome each posting. At one place his peers tried to poison him, (but this is not the worst that happened). Like many iconoclasts he is a celebrity of his profession and day. Heloise’s very modern outlook comes through. She doesn’t want a forced marriage, nor to live in a convent, but both were foisted on her once a son resulted from the romance with Abelard. She refuses to feel guilty for what society sees as a sin. She knows that as an abbess (to which she rises to in her forced career), she is an actress; this is not her calling. Her self-awareness is an unusual trait for the time. She seems to be able to do what Abelard cannot… get along with people. The author attributes a modern outlook to Abelard as well. He doesn’t have the misogynism of his day. He takes the time to deal with the issues of women in religious life, such as the authority of the abbess, what the nuns should wear and how much wine is appropriate. His main focus though is defining the relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the meaning of sin through logic. While the purpose of this book is to introduce recently found letters, and these are mentioned, the book tells the story such that you don’t have to know about the previous letters. The role of the new letters is so unobtrusive that without flipping back, I can’t recount how they change or enhance the original story or its interpretation. There are descriptions of Paris, the geographical borders of France, the King's role in relationship to lands now part of France and the changes in monastic life at the time. You learn who is in power and who is not. In the course of these events, Eleanor of Aquitaine marries Louis VII. The Second Crusade, for which Abelard’s powerful enemy Bernard of Clairvaux is a key stimulus, is only a few years in the offing. If you are knowledgeable about the time or about this couple, you will probably know most of the content. I recommend this for those interested in the times or this couple and do not already know much about their fascinating story.

  2. 5 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    This is really two books in one: a reflection of a great love story; and a treatise on a philosophical argument. Abelard is one of the top logicians ever. But he's probably best known for his castration. Heloise is his devoted student, awed lover. Theirs was an untoward affair that affected both of their lives until death. My only doubt with this book is with the discovery of the early letters. They are used as if it is a given these two lovers definitely wrote them, but it's explained that's it This is really two books in one: a reflection of a great love story; and a treatise on a philosophical argument. Abelard is one of the top logicians ever. But he's probably best known for his castration. Heloise is his devoted student, awed lover. Theirs was an untoward affair that affected both of their lives until death. My only doubt with this book is with the discovery of the early letters. They are used as if it is a given these two lovers definitely wrote them, but it's explained that's it's not exactly certain. But the form of the quotes does seem to fit the styles. Abelard could never learn when to keep his mouth shut, which got him into a lot of trouble. Heloise, forced to take orders, lived a pious life with impure thoughts. They were human. And admitted it to each other. Theirs is one of the greatest love stories ever told.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Collins

    This book about the famous medieval star-crossed lovers was inspired by the recent discovery of what is believed to be some of their early correspondence. The narrative is accessible and well written, and there are touches of humor as the author gently mocks Abelard's arrogance and his talent for antagonizing people. The reader is offered some insight into 12th-century European religion and philosophy in order to better understand this passionate, erudite couple. The book spends more time on Abel This book about the famous medieval star-crossed lovers was inspired by the recent discovery of what is believed to be some of their early correspondence. The narrative is accessible and well written, and there are touches of humor as the author gently mocks Abelard's arrogance and his talent for antagonizing people. The reader is offered some insight into 12th-century European religion and philosophy in order to better understand this passionate, erudite couple. The book spends more time on Abelard, probably because more details of his life are known. Abelard wrote a "letter of consolation" to a friend that was actually an autobiography. But the author admires Heloise, particularly for her writing ability and her sense of drama. There are excerpts from the newly discovered letters included at the end, both the Latin and an English translation. The touching passages quoted throughout the book left me with the desire to read more of their writing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Abelard was my favorite of all the mediaeval Christian philosophers who were required reading in seminary, his writing and the reasoning behind it being clear and accessible, but although I knew quite a lot about his intellectual positions I knew little about his personal life. This is a biography of both Abelard and Heloise, paying just about as much respect to her as it does to him. While I'd read excerpts of their late-in-life correspondence and of his autobiography I'd not known that scholars Abelard was my favorite of all the mediaeval Christian philosophers who were required reading in seminary, his writing and the reasoning behind it being clear and accessible, but although I knew quite a lot about his intellectual positions I knew little about his personal life. This is a biography of both Abelard and Heloise, paying just about as much respect to her as it does to him. While I'd read excerpts of their late-in-life correspondence and of his autobiography I'd not known that scholars may have uncovered earlier correspondence dating from the time they were lovers. This book includes all of the supposed correspondence, much of it inserted in the chronology of their lives as appropriate, all of the new material compiled as an appendix. Although covering events of 900 years ago, author Burge gives enough background to make sense of it all, even the philosophical issues that so exercised Abelard.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Some 900 years ago, a guy wrote a 20,000+ word letter to a good buddy. His buddy was feeling kinda bummed. We don't know why. Perhaps he lost his job as a scribe because he'd hidden dirty pictures on the manuscript he was copying out. Perhaps his childhood sweetheart decided that his tonsure wasn't sexy enough to keep her interest anymore. In the end, it doesn't really matter what this friend's trouble was, since the letter writer's response was the 12th century equivalent of Yo buddy, you th Some 900 years ago, a guy wrote a 20,000+ word letter to a good buddy. His buddy was feeling kinda bummed. We don't know why. Perhaps he lost his job as a scribe because he'd hidden dirty pictures on the manuscript he was copying out. Perhaps his childhood sweetheart decided that his tonsure wasn't sexy enough to keep her interest anymore. In the end, it doesn't really matter what this friend's trouble was, since the letter writer's response was the 12th century equivalent of Yo buddy, you think you've got problems? Just listen to mine . The letter then outlined the letter writer's life story that can be summed up as follows: Boy meets girl. Boy teaches girl. Boy screws girl. Boy impregnates girl. Boy loses balls. Boy loses girl. Boy becomes a monk. Boy becomes famous throughout time. Boy is Peter Abelard. That this letter (as well as several others) survived for all this time is an incredible miracle, and provides a wonderful glimpse into the mind, thoughts and feelings of two people who lived almost a millenium ago. I loved reading the letters between Abelard and Heloise. They were surprisingly fresh and startling in their honesty about their love affair. Heloise especially comes across as a poignant yet resilient woman; one who did her duty to her lover at the cost of her own salvation to her Lord (or so she thought). I appreciated Heloise's struggles, and thought her letters captured the heart and mind of any woman at any time period. I wish I could have rated this higher then 2 stars. You'd think detailed erotic romps, heresy, castration, secret marriage, witty rhetorical debates and two lovers separated forever by duty and distance would make for excellent reading, but I thought Burge's writing style (unlike Abelard's and Heloise's) was too dry even for my sometimes textbookish taste. On the plus side, Burge's book is a quick read, and provides a basic overview of the life and times of Heloise and Abelard. Lots of black and white photos, and a good timeline of important events.

  6. 4 out of 5

    M Christopher

    A very readable and informative biography of one of medieval Christianity's greatest philosopher/theologians and his wife. Or should I say the biography of TWO of medieval Christianity's greatest philosopher/theologians, as Burge makes a good case for the influence of Heloise on Abelard's thought and for her long overlooked independent contributions. Burge does a fine job of not only presenting credible biographies of the two famous lovers through their letters and other writings but also of givi A very readable and informative biography of one of medieval Christianity's greatest philosopher/theologians and his wife. Or should I say the biography of TWO of medieval Christianity's greatest philosopher/theologians, as Burge makes a good case for the influence of Heloise on Abelard's thought and for her long overlooked independent contributions. Burge does a fine job of not only presenting credible biographies of the two famous lovers through their letters and other writings but also of giving the reader a well-rounded sense of the context in which they lived. From court intrigue to factors of common life to the well-known theological contretemps in which Peter Abelard was imbroiled, Burge paints a rich and informative picture of what the lives of his two subjects must have been like. Highly recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    A chatty "modern" biography, Heloise & Abelard nonetheless exhibits sympathy for the love and beliefs of this famous couple. Burge weaves a lot of cloth out of thin air. For example, he hypothesizes that Fulbert may harbor incestuous feelings for his niece, then proceeds to treat that fiction as a fact. On the other hand, Burge's theories help fill gaps left in their existing writings. No worse than many contemporary biographies. A chatty "modern" biography, Heloise & Abelard nonetheless exhibits sympathy for the love and beliefs of this famous couple. Burge weaves a lot of cloth out of thin air. For example, he hypothesizes that Fulbert may harbor incestuous feelings for his niece, then proceeds to treat that fiction as a fact. On the other hand, Burge's theories help fill gaps left in their existing writings. No worse than many contemporary biographies.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Burge does an excellent job of situating the story of Heloise and Abelard in their time. He makes clear what is known form the letters and other documents, how reliable the information is, the extent to which interpretation is secure, and other scholarly challenges. His treatment is far from a dry scholarly approach and brings to life the development of these personalities and their relationship. His presentation presents a much more dynamic sense of philosophy, Christian religious faith, politi Burge does an excellent job of situating the story of Heloise and Abelard in their time. He makes clear what is known form the letters and other documents, how reliable the information is, the extent to which interpretation is secure, and other scholarly challenges. His treatment is far from a dry scholarly approach and brings to life the development of these personalities and their relationship. His presentation presents a much more dynamic sense of philosophy, Christian religious faith, politics, and sexuality in the 11th and 12th centuries than is often understood. He also adds a needed balance to the spirituality championed by Bernard of Clairvaux and those who moved into a introverted contemplation, a faith without(or perhaps beyond) reason as the best or correct form of faith.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Mitsch

    This book takes an in-depth look at the relationship of Peter Abelard and Heloise from start to end. Reasons I liked it- it shows the start of the relationship, with a nod to the society of the time (12th century Paris); the author gives a good overview of Abelard as a philospher; the letters themselves are roken down and analyzed in a way that doesn't take them out of the context written. This biography gives modern readers a beautiful story, showing how completely human we all are, regardless This book takes an in-depth look at the relationship of Peter Abelard and Heloise from start to end. Reasons I liked it- it shows the start of the relationship, with a nod to the society of the time (12th century Paris); the author gives a good overview of Abelard as a philospher; the letters themselves are roken down and analyzed in a way that doesn't take them out of the context written. This biography gives modern readers a beautiful story, showing how completely human we all are, regardless of century.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    A very compelling love story. A true testiment to the powerful emotions of love and passion. Like Romeo & Juliet, it has a sad ending. The excerpts from the actual letters are very interesting to read. I wish more had been included. Mr. Burge very nicely theorises the events giving us a window into the age in which they lived.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gillian

    Great telling of an iconic love story, but also gives a thorough and interesting description of Medieval Paris and Abelard's philosophical achievements. I read this book when it came out, and it still stays with me years later. The conjectures the author makes at the end (I won't ruin it) are amazing to consider. Great telling of an iconic love story, but also gives a thorough and interesting description of Medieval Paris and Abelard's philosophical achievements. I read this book when it came out, and it still stays with me years later. The conjectures the author makes at the end (I won't ruin it) are amazing to consider.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    One, I didn't know before that Hildegard of Bingen was Heloise's contemporary. Two, this book almost makes me wish I knew medieval Latin. Three, there was some interesting information on castration, presented in a very academic way. Four, Heloise was one amazing woman. One, I didn't know before that Hildegard of Bingen was Heloise's contemporary. Two, this book almost makes me wish I knew medieval Latin. Three, there was some interesting information on castration, presented in a very academic way. Four, Heloise was one amazing woman.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    One of the great love stories of all time, from two of the most brilliant minds of the medieval world.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom K

    Really great stuff. I learned a lot about the era through the tragic story/letters of Heloise and Abelard.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Aida

    I've yet to finish, it's a heart-breaking story I've yet to finish, it's a heart-breaking story

  16. 4 out of 5

    Blurryyellow

    Could barely restrain myself from naming my kid Astrolabe after reading this.

  17. 4 out of 5

    loafingcactus

    Very enjoyable. Not just about the personalities, but about the time and culture.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joy Murphy

    A 12th Century forbidden love story, in Paris, with an attraction developing to from immense intellectual discourse through written letters. Toss in some early Catholic doctrine (which I love staying sharp on), and philosophical thought and this biography hit all the marks for me. If anyone is waiting for a call or text from a love interest? Read this and see the lengths they took to engage in meaningful conversation. I believe letters are such a lost art. I’m biased, but I feel Abélard was born A 12th Century forbidden love story, in Paris, with an attraction developing to from immense intellectual discourse through written letters. Toss in some early Catholic doctrine (which I love staying sharp on), and philosophical thought and this biography hit all the marks for me. If anyone is waiting for a call or text from a love interest? Read this and see the lengths they took to engage in meaningful conversation. I believe letters are such a lost art. I’m biased, but I feel Abélard was born about 500 years too soon. He would have made a brilliant Jesuit with his questioning and debate approach.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gerrold

    This is a fast read, fairly breezy. It did teach me a lot, but the rather easy observations and speculations Burge used to flesh out the book didn't really impress me. Still, for what it is -- a fast take on Heloise and Abelard -- it's pleasant enough. I wish there was a bit more analysis of Abelard's philosophical/theological arguments. I don't regret reading the book though now I long for a more comprehensive treatment. This is a fast read, fairly breezy. It did teach me a lot, but the rather easy observations and speculations Burge used to flesh out the book didn't really impress me. Still, for what it is -- a fast take on Heloise and Abelard -- it's pleasant enough. I wish there was a bit more analysis of Abelard's philosophical/theological arguments. I don't regret reading the book though now I long for a more comprehensive treatment.

  20. 5 out of 5

    John

    A fascinating, 12th Century love story, interesting church and political history, and well written philosophical development. There is nothing not to like in this book. Outstanding writing and research.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Floyd Williams

    This was one of the great love stories of the Middle Ages. The book offers an interesting look at the 12th Century. The book provides a vivid description of monastic life, theological debates, and the quest for learning in the Middles Ages.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine Shelstad

    I had heard of this couple and their famous love story but did not know much about them. The author presented their story in a fair way and included quite a bit of their personal letters.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    189.4 A116hb 2006

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    What a story! Shakespeare did indeed have it right when saying, "The course of true love never did run smooth." Heloise and Abelard hit not only some bumpy rapids, but some waterfalls and whirlpools. But their writing to each other is so incredibly beautiful, so poignant. I look at the box that contains the little collection of love letters between my beloved and myself, and what we wrote seems paltry. But, that paltry collection also represents two hearts beating as one, so all in all, it's a go What a story! Shakespeare did indeed have it right when saying, "The course of true love never did run smooth." Heloise and Abelard hit not only some bumpy rapids, but some waterfalls and whirlpools. But their writing to each other is so incredibly beautiful, so poignant. I look at the box that contains the little collection of love letters between my beloved and myself, and what we wrote seems paltry. But, that paltry collection also represents two hearts beating as one, so all in all, it's a good thing. It took me a while to work through this one, but it was worth it. An incredible love story from 900 years ago. If anyone ever says the Middle Ages were dull and stogy, give 'em this book to read. Though some places are in the original text the most part has been translated into modern English. Beautifully, moving, erotic and powerful... Heloise is remarkable. Usually when hearing about this couple, she comes second-- the wanton woman who mended her ways and became an abbess. Burge shows her true colors: intelligent, articulate, intellectual, sensuous, and tenacious at a time when women were not expected to be any of those things. Her letters rang with an honesty. She wasn't afraid to declare her love or to get on Abelard's case when his responses didn't live up to her expectations Lovers who did wrong and lived to tell the tale, as one wit said. And the other fascinating part of this book besides the glimpse into their relationship? It gave a window into their world, particularly that of the influence of the church and role of women in it, and the rise of intellectualism and the universities. My history professor would be proud.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Robinson

    This is my introduction to Heloise and Abelard so I can't compare it to anything else, but James Burge's education, research and understanding recommends him. I enjoyed his clarity and analysis in trying to piece together the lives of these two. Yes, some was supposition because we can't know the whole story but he brought in the historical context, letters of others and used his knowledge and intelligence to reason his way through some of the unknowns and I think he did a pretty good job. The m This is my introduction to Heloise and Abelard so I can't compare it to anything else, but James Burge's education, research and understanding recommends him. I enjoyed his clarity and analysis in trying to piece together the lives of these two. Yes, some was supposition because we can't know the whole story but he brought in the historical context, letters of others and used his knowledge and intelligence to reason his way through some of the unknowns and I think he did a pretty good job. The middle ages fascinates me as I know it does others and I learned something about the early 1100's. I came away not feeling like I really knew these two complicated people and though it's amazing that we have so much on them I'm just sorry that we know more about Abelard than Heloise. I would have liked to have an account of her life as an Abbess. What an amazing, intelligent, complicated woman with a real gift for writing. I liked the Appendix where Mr. Burge gave us some excerpts from their letters and put the Latin under the English translation because, while I don't know any Latin, I could see the beauty of her writing in the original language with its rhythm and rhyming tecniques. Next I will read her letters in entirety to get the flow.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Yoder

    The tragic affair of Heloise and Abelard is one of the history's great romances. In the Twelfth Century, the Canon Fulbert castrated the young philosopher Peter Abelard for an illicit relationship with his niece Heloise. In the years following the castration, the two lovers continued to write each other as Heloise became an abbotess and Abelard continued to write philosophical and theological books. It's in a few surviving letters that we see glimpses of an extraordinary and passionate relations The tragic affair of Heloise and Abelard is one of the history's great romances. In the Twelfth Century, the Canon Fulbert castrated the young philosopher Peter Abelard for an illicit relationship with his niece Heloise. In the years following the castration, the two lovers continued to write each other as Heloise became an abbotess and Abelard continued to write philosophical and theological books. It's in a few surviving letters that we see glimpses of an extraordinary and passionate relationship -- a union that engulfed Heloise and Abelard, both romantically and intellectually. James Burge's biography explores Heloise and Abelard's story in the context of medieval culture, religion and politics. It's a fascinating topic - too bad the book is so terribly written. Burge frequently commits a cardinal biographic sin by speculating on the feelings and motivations of people nine hundred years in the past. He also makes a number of unnecessary references to contemporary culture in comparison to medieval Europe. The story of Heloise and Abelard deserves a compelling biography -- unfortunately, I was too distracted by Burge's writing to really enjoy this attempt.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Terese

    Very little Heloise and Abelard and very much James Burge. A disappointment to me. There are few to the point facts, even the snippets of letters are surrounded by Burge's pompous interpretations, assumptions and conclusions about the people involved and perhaps worst of all about the people not involved... Burge goes off on far too many tangents that takes focus away from the story and underlines how thin it really is. I like the thin story ok, I don't want to be informed about Burge's opinion o Very little Heloise and Abelard and very much James Burge. A disappointment to me. There are few to the point facts, even the snippets of letters are surrounded by Burge's pompous interpretations, assumptions and conclusions about the people involved and perhaps worst of all about the people not involved... Burge goes off on far too many tangents that takes focus away from the story and underlines how thin it really is. I like the thin story ok, I don't want to be informed about Burge's opinion of the Middle Ages ( oh really mr. Burge for the entire medieval period you managed to come up with a handful of other 'famous' independent women... Yes that MUST mean that it wasn't impossible at all for womenfolk to to live independently! And by the way if I wanted to read about Hildegrad of Bingen I would have gotten a book on her!) Most of the book comes across to me as pandering to a modern public. It is quite obvious that James Burge really is a maker of "factual" television programmes. I haven't seen his work but I dare say he should stick to that and leave the book writing to people who can stay on topic.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Arieltsmith

    This very skillful double biography of the famous 12th century lovers seamlessly weaves a picture of their lives and personalities. Heloise is "intelligent,sexy, stylish and faithful" to the point that men who come across her passionate letters to Abelard cannot help but feel a little in love with her themselves. (This certainly seemed to be true of Mr. Burge.) Abelard is an intellectual pugilist who batters his way to enormous fame as the greatest philosopher of his day, and whose lucid logic r This very skillful double biography of the famous 12th century lovers seamlessly weaves a picture of their lives and personalities. Heloise is "intelligent,sexy, stylish and faithful" to the point that men who come across her passionate letters to Abelard cannot help but feel a little in love with her themselves. (This certainly seemed to be true of Mr. Burge.) Abelard is an intellectual pugilist who batters his way to enormous fame as the greatest philosopher of his day, and whose lucid logic remains respected today. Burge does a very impressive job keeping his double biography as an even portrayal of both Abelard & Heloise, without favoring one or the other. Perhaps most impressively, he is able to keep the reader's attention with equal strength throughout the book: past the lover's raging hot love affair, past their separation and Abelard's tragic castration, and into their twilight years when as a monk and nun Abelard and Heloise were reunited as friends and wrote their world famous letters.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I thought this book was a better description of how monasteries and the clerical world functioned during Medieval times than a great love story. That being said, I learned a lot. It was interesting to me to learn about their form of democracy which was more like mob rule than an organized system--they had some sort of fascinating term for it that I can't recall at this moment. Heloise was more interesting to me that Abelard, who sounded kind of socially inept. Every single work situation he enter I thought this book was a better description of how monasteries and the clerical world functioned during Medieval times than a great love story. That being said, I learned a lot. It was interesting to me to learn about their form of democracy which was more like mob rule than an organized system--they had some sort of fascinating term for it that I can't recall at this moment. Heloise was more interesting to me that Abelard, who sounded kind of socially inept. Every single work situation he entered into ended in shambles--after a while, all you can think is that he's the one with the problem. But, genius does tend to irritate people. I also wondered if he was sort of the equivalent to the unhinged bad-boy lead singer with Heloise as his band groupie. After all, he did write songs for Heloise's abbey. Poor Heloise... P.S. I have a feeling this story is a little early to be shelved as Courtly Love Era, but I went ahead and did it anyway.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I have to confess, I wasn't really familiar with the story of Heloise and Abelard before I read this book. I had a vague idea they once lived, fell in love, and had a kid. But what I didn't know is that what we know of them survives through letters written to each other in the 1100s along with offical letters, songs, hymns, and philosophy books from their time. This is a biography, so unless you like to read about people, don't kid yourself into reading this and hoping for a Romeo and Juliet typ I have to confess, I wasn't really familiar with the story of Heloise and Abelard before I read this book. I had a vague idea they once lived, fell in love, and had a kid. But what I didn't know is that what we know of them survives through letters written to each other in the 1100s along with offical letters, songs, hymns, and philosophy books from their time. This is a biography, so unless you like to read about people, don't kid yourself into reading this and hoping for a Romeo and Juliet type of narrative. But if you do read it, you will discover a world of such strong and lustful love that not only surived until their deaths, but also inspires people today. It inspired me to quiz my new husband about his strength of love for me, and I even asked, "but would you sacrifice for me?". There is also something to be said about the long lost art of letter writing.

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