HELOISE by Elizabeth Hamilton


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Scholars have expressed the opinion that the 12th century would have been dull without Heloise and Abelard, those illustrious and star-crossed lovers whose story has streaked down the centuries. Abelard, renowned cleric, master intellect, fell in love with the exceptionally gifted and learned Heloise (then sixteen) when he was thirty-seven, entered her uncle's household as her instructor, left it as her lover. Though she had borne his child, she wished to abstain from marriage to give him the freedom to return to his vocation; he insisted. Uncle Fulbert's rage gave rise to the act of Abelard's emasculation. He retired to a monastery, meanwhile assuring that his ""inseparable companion"" be placed safely (and perhaps selfishly) in a convent. Their letters over the years yield a rich and complex explication of love. In the present consideration, Elizabeth Hamilton has followed in the footsteps of the lovers to remark upon their physical habitations, also probes the extant letters for their secrets. She mentions other treatments, although the Waddell Abelard is notably absent (and appears to be now out of print). A serious handling of some sensibility.

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 1966
Publisher: Doubleday