The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard: Perceptions of Dialogue in Twelfth-Century France

Paperback | September 15, 2008

Read byConstant J. MewsTranslated byNeville Chiavaroli, Constant Mew

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This book examines a medieval text long neglected by most scholars. The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard looks at the earlier correspondence between these two famous individuals, revealing the emotions and intimate exchanges that occurred between them. The perspectives presented here are very different from the view related by Abelard in his "History of My Calamities," an account which provoked a much more famous exchange of letters between Heloise and Abelard after they had both entered religious life. Offering a full translation of the love letters along with a copy of the actual Latin text, Mews provides an in-depth analysis of the debate concerning the authenticity of the letters and look at the way in which the relationship between Heloise and Abelard has been perceived over the centuries. He also explores the political, literary, and religious contexts in which the two figures conducted their affair and offers new insights into Heloise as an astonishingly gifted writer, whose literary gifts were ultimately frustrated by the course of her relationship with her teacher.

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This book examines a medieval text long neglected by most scholars. The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard looks at the earlier correspondence between these two famous individuals, revealing the emotions and intimate exchanges that occurred between them. The perspectives presented here are very different from the view related by ...

Constant Mews teaches in the Department of History at Monash University in Australia, where he is also Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion. Neville Chiavaroli, a classicist and Italian translator, is a doctoral student in the Department of History at Monash University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.99 inPublished:September 15, 2008Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230608132

ISBN - 13:9780230608139

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

The Discovery of a Manuscript * Memories of an Affair * Paris, the Schools and the Politics of Sex * Traditions of Dialogue * The Language of the Love Letters * The Voice of Heloise * From the Letters of Two Lovers (text and translation)

Editorial Reviews

". . . a detailed and readable account. . . an asset to collections supporting studies of French literature and early French history and theology."--Choice  "Only recently -- and miraculously -- has a new cache of material turned up, fragments of 113 letters that many scholars believe Abelard and Heloise exchanged before Abelard's castration. Copied in the 15th century by a monk named Johannes de Vespria, discovered in 1980 by Constant J. Mews and finally published as ‘The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard,’ these short but eloquent missives present two people vying -- with no coyness or gender typecasting whatever -- to outdo each other in expressions of adoration. 'To a reddening rose under the spotless whiteness of lilies,' the woman addresses the man. 'To his jewel, more pleasing and more splendid than the present light,' the man addresses the woman. The letters have unleashed a new storm of interest in the couple; it is to this that we owe the British filmmaker James Burge's biography, 'Abelard and Heloise.' "--New York Times Book Review A thorough, sympathetic appraisal of the [letters]. By restoring this magnificent literary dialogue to its rightful place in Latin letters, Mews has performed a signal service not only for scholars of Abelard and Heloise, but for all who love literature.”--The Medieval Review “Important for medievalists, feminists, and those captivated by the Abelard and Heloise myth; highly recommended.”--Library Journal