The Letter Collection of Peter Abelard and Heloise

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-10-15
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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The collected letters of Peter Abelard and Heloise provide an extraordinarily vivid account of one of the most celebrated love affairs in the western world. It was an affair that developed into a vigorous quarrel and raised fundamental questions about love, marriage, and religious life, and also provided a uniquely valuable illustration of the intellectual and religious ferment that is called the Renaissance of the twelfth century. Abelard was the leading philosopher of his time and a very public figure in France, as well as being a fiercely attacked theologian and unpopular abbot. Heloise, his brilliant pupil, lover, and wife, also became a nun and abbess, much against her will. She provoked this brilliantly written correspondence which is widely regarded as one of the finest literary compositions of the twelfth century. These letters have for many centuries given enjoyment to their readers and have inspired numerous creative imitations. They have also given rise to huge disagreements over their historical content and significance. The collection opens with an autobiography which contains the story of the calamities that followed Abelard's successes - his castration, his condemnation for heresy, and the unhappiness of the couple's separation. Heloise's letters show an exceptional outpouring of grief and bitter recrimination. Yet the correspondence closes with thoroughly serious, scholarly, and original enquiries into the origins and development of pagan, Jewish, and Christian ideals of religious life both male and female. It constitutes a fundamental source for discussion and debate about important features of thought and religion in the Middle Ages. A new critical edition based on all the manuscripts has long been needed. Its appearance here with a facing English translation, a full introduction, extensive annotation taking into account recent scholarship, and detailed indexes will enable all kinds of readers to enjoy the letters and to join the debates which they always stir.

Author Biography

David Luscombe studied and taught in the University of Cambridge and was Professor of Medieval History in the University of Sheffield until 2003. He has edited other writings by Abelard and has written extensively on the history of medieval thought and religion. He has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 1986 and was President of the International Society for Study of Medieval Philosophy (S.I.E.P.M.) from 1997 to 2002.

Table of Contents

History And Legend
The Letter Collection
Other Letters
Other Letters Relating to the Oratory of the Paraclete
Authorship and Authenticity of the Letter Collection
Style and Structure
Epistulae Duorum Amantium
The Development of the Oratory of the Paraclete
History of the Text
The Surviving Manuscripts
Lost or Uncertainly Identified Manuscripts and other Testimonies to the Letter Collection Prior to the First Printed Edition
Rejected Manuscripts
Summary List of Surviving and Lost or Uncertainly Identified Manuscripts in Approximate Chronological Order and of their Provenance or Earliest Known Possessors
Printed Editions of the Letter Collection: Before 1800
Printed Editions from 1800 of the Letter Collection which use one or more Manuscripts, both Latin and French
The Present Edition
Relationships between the Manuscripts
The Edition
The Translation
Sigla of the Manuscripts
Summary of Manuscript Witnesses to each of the Letters and of their Extents
Letter 1
Letter 2
Letter 3
Letter 4
Letter 5
Letter 6
Letter 7
Letter 8
The Rule
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