Heloise and Abelard: A Twelfth-Century Love Story

Written by James Burge
Review by Tess Allegra

This new biography of a passionate love story, which has traveled through nine centuries, reveals the recent discovery of eight early letters: five from Abelard and three from Heloise. Their interesting provenance is detailed in James Burge’s enthusiastic introduction. Such a discovery clearly adds to his fervor in telling this fascinating story of the exceptional Heloise, who became Abbess of Paraclete monastery, having been cruelly separated from her Abelard and their young son. Excerpts from Abelard’s letters of dispute with Church officials (which led to his heresy trial) are included, mingled with details and drawings from twelfth-century France, giving the reader a compelling sense of life at the time. The passion, spirit and devotion of this star-crossed couple come through on every page. Highly recommended.