Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 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

SHARE THIS

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

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

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

Archives

Johary Ravaloson’s Return to the Enchanted Island Is the Second Novel from Madagascar to Be Translated into English

johary ravaloson - winds from elsewhere - graph (1)

In May 2018, we brought news of the first novel by a writer from Madagascar to be translated into English: […]

Sundays at Saint Steven’s | Davina Philomena Kawuma | Poetry

unsplash3

when god runs out of money (how, no one says) once a week, these days, we come to where the […]

Read the First Excerpt from Petina Gappah’s New Novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light

petina gappah - out of darkness, shining light - graph

Petina Gappah‘s new novel Out of Darkness, Shining Light was released on 10 September by Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner. […]

We Need To Talk | Muriel Adhiambo | Fiction

unsplash4

IT WAS A warm, humid night in the lakeside city of Kisumu. Under a starless sky, the women, seated on […]

For World Diabetes Day, Miss BloodSugar Calls for Entries to Competition & Anthology Sponsored by Bella Naija

mbs final edit

Press release: What’s your diabetes story? Are you diabetic? Have you been impacted by the experiences of a family/friend/patient with […]

The Hour of Judgment | Edith Knight Magak | Fiction

unsplash1

THE HOUR OF judgment has come upon me, and my hope for redemption is pegged on a needle, sorcery, and […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.