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Heloise and Abelard (Ann Arbor Paperbacks) Paperback – May 15, 1960

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Etienne Gilson was born in Paris in 1884. He became Professor of Mediaeval Philosophy at the Sorbonne in 1921, and from 1932 until his retirement in 1951, he held a similar chair at the CollYge de France. From 1929 until his death, he was affiliated with the Institute of Mediaeval Studies at the University of Toronto.
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Product Details

  • Series: Ann Arbor Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press; 1 edition (May 15, 1960)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472060384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472060382
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,824,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
One of the most famous romantic tragedies of the Middle Ages was also a historical event--the relationship of Heloise and Abelard. Abelard was a philosopher and theologian teaching in Paris during the early 1100s. He had a towering intellect with an ego to match. His career was highly successful and occasionally controversial. He was hired by Fulbert to teach his niece Heloise. She had private lessons in Fulbert's house and the thirty-something Abelard fell in love and had an affair with the teen-aged Heloise. She was a brilliant student even before coming under Abelard's influence. When Fulbert found out about the affair, he had them separated. Heloise and Abelard continued to meet in secret. She became pregnant and went to Brittany to have the child in the home of Abelard's sister. Abelard proposed a secret marriage (kept secret to preserve his intellectual career) to appease Fulbert. Heloise objected but finally consented. Fulbert did not want it kept a secret so he announced the marriage after it happened. Abelard sent Heloise to a convent to free her from the influence of her uncle. Fulbert took this a a rejection of Heloise and had some men break into Abelard apartment at night and castrate him. Abelard decided to become a monk and argued Heloise into becoming a nun at the convent. She still pined for his love and was uncomfortable in her role as a nun and eventually an abbess. They exchanged several letters which are the primary source for their story.

Gilson draws on these letters to give not so much the history of Heloise and Abelard but a sense of them as two people swept up in their passion for learning the classics (they were as fond of Roman Stoics as of Christian writings) and for each other. Heloise realizes that, in order to be a great man of letters like Seneca of St.
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Format: Paperback
The writer of Medievel mysteries Umberto Eco, after seeking his counsel, called Etienne Gilson an "Illustrious medievalist... dear and unforgettable" (quoted from the intro of the book "The Name of the Rose"). Well, Etienne Gilson, in this book, "Heloise and Abelard" sets out to solve a real mystery set in medieval times; that of the intricacies of love, an unplanned pregenancy, and the resultant problems (Abelard ,was castrated (but two of his assailants were, under Christian justice at the time, given the same treatment, as well as having their eyes gouged out)). Gilson in the manner of detective and psychologist, as well as historian, attempts to deal out justice as well as look inside people's hearts, and discover their true intents (which he admits in the end, God only knows). The true story of Heloise's love for Abelard is one of the most endearing ever told and something that many medievalists tinker around with (including Heiko Oberman) Abelard was on superstar status, in his day, as a professor of theology and philosophy in age where students had much more leeway to choose their teachers and professors were paid by the number of students they had; Abelard was so popular he had to hold classes outside. Part history, part philosophy (or history of philosophy), and Gilson takes some liberties at psychologizing a bit. If you like Umberto Eco you might like this book as well, but read about them on the internet or in an encyclopedia before you start, if you know nothing about them, as Gilson gets right into the detectiving with little background details. There are all kinds of devious and/or devoted monks that Abelard must contend with, like the monks in Umberto Eco's stories.Read more ›
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