Background | Background
Quiz | Starting Assumptions
| Resources | Extras
You might want to start by taking a look at the Supplementary Pages for this week...
You can read the complete "First Letter" of Heloise to Abelard online at the Medieval History Sourcebook; the complete Latin text is available at Ad Fontes or at the Bibliotheca Augustana. There are additional letters available online at The Humanities Handbook and there are texts of the other letters of Abelard and Heloise in Latin available online.
In particular, you can read Abelard's Latin letter to his friend, Ad amicum suum consolatoria at Ad Fontes and also at the IntraText site. This work is also known as the Historia calamitatum. You can read an English translation of the Historia calamitatum online.
An enormous German website about Abelard and Heloise provides a map showing all the places relevant to their personal histories. It also provides a number of other texts online, including excerpts from his Sic et Non (with a sample manuscript page). You can read the Latin prologue to Sic et Non online.
There is an Abelard website at Covenant College which provides abundant information about Abelard's works and their place in the Christian tradition.
The authenticity of the letters if regularly debated; you can read one scholar's conclusions about the authenticity of the letters at this University of Illinois website.
The adventures of Abelard and Heloise have been the subject of many imaginative re-tellings. Alexander Pope (1688-1744) wrote a poem on this subject. Mark Twain tells their story in his comic travel book, Innocents Abroad. Even the film Being John Malkovitch (tell me this was not the best film of 2001!!! I still think it should have won the Oscar for best picture...) includes the story of Abelard and Heloise... as puppets!
You can see Heloise and Abelard's genealogy online (with an entry for their son, Astrolabe). Brenda Cook's essay, The Birth of Heloise: New Light on an Old Mystery? is available online. Martin Irvine's essay, The Pen(is), Castration, and Identity:
Abelard's Negotiations of Gender, is also available online.
The film, Stealing Heaven, can be seen in the form of 200 still images online: it's the Stealing Heaven Slideshow.
There is also a cartoon version: watch a 60-second trailer for the cartoon Abelard & Heloise online. This cartoon is based on what it claims to be an unfinished play by Shakespeare: 'Abelard and Elois, a Tragedie'.
You can listen to a radio snippet about Peter Abelard at the University of Houston (4 minutes).