The debate on the Epistolae duorum amantium. Current status quaestionis and further research
Réka Forrai, Sylvain Piron
Alla caccia degli autori L’analisi informatica al servizio della ricera filologica: il caso delle Epistolae duroum amantium (2007)
The Epistolae duorum amantium are the object of one of the most intense and interesting current debates in medieval studies. Could it be the case that this set of 116 anonymous sophisticated letters and poems exchanged by a couple of learned medieval lovers represents the actual correspondence of Heloise and Abaelard at the time of their love affair, as Constant Mews has claimed in a book published in 1999 ? This ascription has been accepted by some scholars (B. Newman, M. Clanchy, D. Boquet, etc.) ; some supporters have even produced more arguments and evidence in favour of such a result (S. Jaeger, J. Ward, S. Piron). On the other hand, a number of medievalists have expressed their scepticism on various grounds, arguing that is impossible to decide (G. Lobrichon), that the outcome doesn’t matter much (J. Verger, M.T. Fumagalli), or just stating their disbelief (J. Marenbon, G. Orlandi). The number of actual argumented critics against Mews’ view is so far rather limited (G. Constable, P. Dronke, P. von Moos, J. Ziolkowski). Most of them originated among Latin philologists, but it would be misleading to reduce the debate to an opposition between disciplines (idest, the cautious philologists against the temerary historians) or, as J. Ziolkowski puts it, between continents (the European sceptics vs. the enthusiastic Australians and Americans), or to perceive it, as Ziolkowski also strongly suggests, as expressing an ideological divide on the issue of gender studies (the defender of the ascription beeing blinded by a feminist agenda).