Heloise and Abelard


When I announced in the Calendar of the Collège de Francefor the year 1936-37 a course of lectur s on The Medieval Origins of Humanism, it was not difficult to foresee that I should have to deal with Abélard. This indeed is what happened. On the other hand, I was very far from realizing that I should have to devote quite as much attention to Héloïseas to Abélardhimself, and that, once entered into their story, I should find it very difficult to leave off, not only because it is, indeed, so fascinating in itself, but because it is a kind of touchstone serving to test and evaluate the various definitions of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance which turn up from time to time. I have, accordingly, gathered together in the following chapters the essential material of the lectures given in 1937 at the Collège de Franceon this celebrated story. I am very far from considering them the last word on the question. Quite the contrary; I publish them in the hope of making it clear that the real problem has perhaps never been understood. Certainly it has never been interpreted from what was undoubtedly the point of view of the actual protagonists in the drama. I am referring, of course, to their ideas as they themselves understood them.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Ann Arbor, MI
Publication year:
  • 1960


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