Friday, March 2, 2007

Marginalia

For kicks (and because I figure it's time I get around to it), I've been reading the letters of Abelard and Heloise this week. I have a cheap used translation ($0.99 from the campus book store), and the previous owner evidently took issue with Abelard's, um, ego.

"He doesn't address the problems in order!" s/he writes fervently in the margin of page 145. A few pages later: "He thinks he's so perfect now. 'Was' guilty," and, "he cares for her out of duty from previousness [sic] not love. he says he suffered for them both to be forgiven, as if she has gotten a free ride."

Now the commentary is flying thick and fast. Page 150 finds criticism of his style ("He goes on too much about one point"), his self-representation and hypocrisy ("he overdoes stuff! (exaggerated his humility, after condemning that)"), and attitude towards family ("doesn't he love his son, shouldn't having a kid change his view").

By page 154, our intrepid reader has had enough. Time to address Abelard directly:

"Yes, dummy," s/he fumes, "but she still suffers from desire! It's easy to say cuz you can't feel it anymore."

There ought to be some kind of clever joke to be made about monastic reading practices and/or Biblical exegesis, but it's beyond me at the moment. All I can say is, I'm enjoying the vicarious experience of one reader's impassioned lectio--and yes, Abelard is a bit full of himself, sure. But isn't that just a part of his charm?

1 comment:

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Naaaah. Abelard is just not that charming. He's a real shit.