Abelard, was a brilliant teacher and philosopher in Paris; students flocked to his lectures. He was appointed tutor to Heloise, 15 years his junior but already famous for her learning. From their letters we learn of their love affair: we know about their terms of endearment, about the passion of their lovemaking, of stolen moments in churches, of their erotic play. The letters tell the story of the birth of their child, of their secret marriage and the violence and tragedy which followed, culminating in a brutal attack in which Abelard was castrated.
In the aftermath the couple separated to continue their lives in monasteries. Abelard’s tempestuous philosophical career culminated in a trial for heresy. Heloise became the abbess of a convent but could never forget her love. In the letters it is she who struggles, bit by bit, to enlist Abelard’s help in rebuilding the love they had lost.