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

The 2017 Brittle Paper Literary Awards: The Winners

Brittle Paper Literary Awards (1)

The Brittle Paper Literary Awards is our way of recognizing the finest, original pieces of literature by Africans available online […]

Brittle Paper Poet, Ademola Enoch, Wins Goal.com’s Essay Contest

IMG_20170803_161124

Early September, we announced the football essay contest organised by Goal.com Nigeria. We are elated to announce now that the […]

The Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction/Memoir: Meet the Nominees

hdr

To mark our seventh anniversary on August 1, 2017, we announced the inaugural Brittle Paper Literary Awards, to recognize the finest, original pieces of […]

PHOTOS | Book Launch of Dr. Kehinde A. Ayoola’s Awaken! A Compilation of Scriptures

kehinde ayoola awakening

On Sunday, September 17th, US-based Nigerian author Dr. Kehinde Ayoola celebrated the publication of her new book with friends, family, […]

Chike Frankie Edozien’s Lives of Great Men | Inside Nigeria’s First Memoir About LGBTQ Life

lives of great men copies

Chike Frankie Edozien, professor of journalism at New York University, has a remarkable book forthcoming. The memoir, titled Lives of […]

Africa39 Author and Caine Prize Winner Mary Watson’s New Novel Arrives in 2018

mary watson

Mary Watson, Africa39 author and winner of the 2008 Caine Prize, will have her third book released in February 2018. […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.