Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

The Sad Love Story of Heloise and Abelard

Even during the celebration of the Mass, when our prayers should be purer, lewd visions of those pleasures take such a hold upon my unhappy soul that my thoughts are on their wantonness instead of on prayers. I should be groaning over the sins I have committed, but I can only sigh for what I have lost. Everything we did and also the times and places where we did it are stamped on my heart along with your image, so that I live through them all again with you. Even in sleep I have no respite. Sometimes my thoughts are betrayed in a movement of my body, or they break out in an unguarded word. In my utter wretchedness, that cry from a suffering soul could well be mine: “Miserable creature that I am, who is there to rescue me out of the body doomed to this death?” —  Heloise to Abelard, Letter 4

Heloise and Abelard lived in medieval France. Heloise had a flair for languages and philosophy. So while she was living with an uncle, she became a student of Abelard who was a theologian. Teacher and student fell in love. But their very steamy and secret affair came to an end when her uncle castrated Abelard for carrying on with his niece.  The excerpt you’ve just read is the fourth in a series of letters they sent to each other. This was long after the affair had ended. 15 years maybe. Heloise is now a nun. And Abelard is a monk or something like that. Clearly she hasn’t gotten over him. It’s sad because when she carries on and on like this about how she just can’t forget what it was like being with him, all he says is Look, I’m done. I’ve moved on. You need to do the same too. I’m a girl like Heloise, and I totally get how difficult it is to let go. But yikes! after undergoing the trauma of castration, I can also see why Abelard would rather not be bothered by whatever they had.

Read all of Letter IV HERE!

Image via

Feature Image via

Tags: , , , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

“My Friends and Family Know I’m Not a Woman”: Akwaeke Emezi on Figuring Out She Is Transgender

akwaeke emezi

Akwaeke Emezi, most recently photographed for Vogue ahead of the release of her debut novel Freshwater, has come out as […]

Praxis Poetry Chapbook Series: Stanley McDaniels’ “Entrapment” | Foreword by Otosirieze Obi-Young

cover (1)

The Praxis Poetry Chapbook Series, an initiative of Praxis Magazine, publishes poetry chapbooks by new poets. It launched in 2016 with […]

How Egyptian Music Icon Abdel Halim Hafez Became a Centrepiece in Safia Elhillo’s “The January Children”

safia elhillo book

Sudanese poet Safia Elhillo has received the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, with her poem “application for assylum” shortlisted […]

Heaven Is a Place South of Here | Kanyinsola Olorunninsola | Memoir

received_1623695634357425

And because no man is permitted entry into heaven without a sacrifice of his own. . . the story of […]

Lupita Nyong’o Announces New Children’s Book, “Sulwe”

lupita_custom-6131c7d701315f00cf097f4e7cc39578e8758b9c-s900-c85

Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o has announced a new children’s book titled Sulwe. The book, reports The New York Times, […]

14: An Anthology of Queer Art | Vol. 2: The Inward Gaze

IMG-20180113-WA0006

A few days ago, we announced the gorgeous cover for the LGBTQI art collective 14’s second volume, which featured snippets […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.