Pierre Abélard and Héloïse, The Letters of Abélard and Héloïse: Abelard seems to have a talent for pissing people off.

Both Abelard and Heloise are good at expressing themselves (and the translation I am reading seems to be a good one — it has many interesting explanatory footnotes).

I know I should not be so surprised, but I am finding Abelard to be nothing more than a total self-centered jerk and I find myself getting cross at Heloise for taking it from him. Admittedly I have only read his narration of his “troubles”, which tells of their meeting, their romance, their secret marriage, his sudden castration by her male relatives, and their entrance both into separate, but nonetheless related, lives within the Church; and the first three letters (there are 8 total).

Heloise, so far, spends half her letters worshiping him and the other half begging him to say a nice word to her, a private, caring word. In contrast, Abelard whitters on about how he needs her (and all the woman in the convent) to spend more quality time saying prayers for him so that he might be delivered from his current calamities (Abelard seems to have a talent for pissing people off, justified or not–I think he brings much of this on himself through sheer arrogance, but I may be being unfair), and how she must make sure that if he should be killed that his body is buried at the monastery where she is so as to be closer to them so that they won’t forget to continue praying for him.

Yes, yes, he did suffer for his “love” for her, quite dramatically and I expect painfully, though he claims the castration was so quick it hardly hurt and that he was more worried over the state of his reputation than his physical well-being. Still it seems overwhelmingly that he just sees Heloise as an object to use, first to satisfy lust and personal vanity, and later as a conduit to win him favor with God against his enemies. He seems a very cynical man.

Source: Goodreads, Carol

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