Heloise and the Consolation of Friendship
In the mid-1980s when I was working on a book concerning friendship in monastic life in the Middle Ages, I deliberately left out the relationship between Abelard and Heloise.1 I did not even try to consider whether their bond was one of friendship. At the time it seemed too problematic to delve into the question of their love affair, the witness of the letters and their authenticity, as well as the monastic element in their relationship. In what follows here I want to answer this unasked question of friendship and look at it in terms of the concept of consolation.2 I can do so only in fear and trembling, for the letters of Abelard and Heloise, the foundation of any speculation about the relationship of the two, have in the last decades been one of the most controversial areas of medieval studies.3
KeywordsReligious Life Twelfth Century Love Affair Late Antiquity Religious Woman
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