By Sylvain Piron
Strategies of Remembrance: From Pindar to Hölderlin, edited by Lucie Doležalová (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009)
Introduction: By addressing issues connected with memory in two collections of twelfth century Latin letters – the famous correspondence exchanged between Heloise and Abelard and the anonymous set of love letters known as Epistolae duorum amantium – this article pursues two different goals at the same time. On the one hand, it will be easily recognised that such personal documentation, not often preserved from the medieval period, offers appropriate material for observing how memories of educated people were constructed, sustained and expressed. But the choice of studying these two collections side by side is also connected to another explicit purpose. Such a confrontation provides an occasion to put to the test the claim made by Constant Mews that the two anonymous lovers are indeed Heloise and Abelard in the early phase of their affair; this test will eventually result in formulating a new argument in favour of this ascription. As will gradually become clear, these two perspectives are in fact closely related, since they are both investigating the ways in which literary memory is shaping personal identity at its most intimate.