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“In Any Corner of Heaven”: Heloise’s Critique of Monastic Life

  • Linda Georgianna
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Traditionally, readers have sought to cast Heloise as a modern romantic heroine, defiant, candid, courageous, tragic, and above all unyielding in her passionate attachment to Abelard. Her modernity has been variously construed; if one admirer associates her achievements with the Italian Renaissance, another views them as a precursor of the Enlightenment.1 But the thrust invariably is to praise Heloise for her precocity in rebelling against the mores of her age. Henry Adams, in Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (1904), turned to Abelard’s works for clues to “the Gothic thought and philosophy” embodied in the famous cathedral; but he excuses Heloise from his study, saying: “Neither art nor thought has a modern equivalent; only Héloïse, like Isolde, unites the ages”2 Much more recently Barbara Newman wrote: “While [Heloise] wages impassioned war with Abelard under the guise of submission, she never ceases to fascinate; but when she actually submits, she dwindles into virtue as a heroine of romance might dwindle into marriage”3

Keywords

Religious Life Twelfth Century Spiritual Life Woman Writer Religious Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Bonnie Wheeler 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Georgianna

There are no affiliations available

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