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Document Details :
Title: Wordly Love - Spiritual Love
Subtitle: The Dialectics of Courtly Love in the Middle Ages
Author(s): CLASSEN, Albrecht
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 11 Date: 2000
We have studied three very disparate bodies of texts from the high Middle Ages: the Latin correspondence between Abelard and Heloise; the Middle High German verse novella Der arme Heinrich by Hartmann von Aue; and the Flemish/Dutch love poetry, visions, and letters composed by the mystic Hadewijch. From this examination, the medieval concept of love suddenly gains a new profile, revealing itself to be characterized by an intricate combination of worldly and spiritual features. Certainly, courtly love was in many cases strongly erotic, hence secular, and dealt with the physical union of the lovers; but our comparative analysis demonstrates that religious connotations always played a significant role as well. Both mystical discourse and learned correspondence dealt with love - a love, however, both divinely inspired and highly erotic. Little wonder then that Hartmann's famous verse novella thus emerges as a sensitive portrayal of both aspects of love, whose interaction is necessary for love's fullest realization. Only the combination of both dimensions guarantees the protagonists' complete happiness and well-being in this world.