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The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida, and Psychoanalytic Reading
Jacques Lacan's seminar on "The Purloined Letter" at once challenged literary theorists and revealed a radically new conception of psychoanalysis. His far-reaching claims about language and truth provoked a vigorous critique by Jacques Derrida, whose essay in turn has spawned further responses from Barbara Johnson, Jane Gallop, Irene Harvey, Norman Holland, and others.
Paperback, 408 pages
Published December 1st 1987 by Johns Hopkins University Press
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The Purloined Poe is at once astonishing and frustrating. It is incredible to read Poe's "The Purloined Letter" and then watch how the story unfolds in the hands of critics like psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and deconstructionist Jacques Derrida. I've gone through the experience of reading the short story, Lacan's seminar, and Derrida's "Purveyor of Truth" twice now, and both experiences were astonishingly similar. I began reading the criticism incredulously. How can he honestly make this short st ...more
A good chunk of the scholarship regarding Poe's "The Purloined Letter." Not a casual read, but I appreciate having the thought collected. Some of the essays do an excellent job opening up Lacan's Seminar on The Purloined Letter and Derrida's critique of Lacan. Not only are these essays useful for appreciating Poe, but they comprise a good primer of Lacanian psychoanalysis and Derridian deconstruction. I am interested to see how my students will read Poe's work.
Haven't read all of it, as I only had Lacan's and Shoshana's text on my curriculum, but I certainly plan on reading the whole book sometime during a vacation. Lacan's essay was really difficult, but interesting, and Felman's was downright wonderful. They have made me appreciate psychoanalysis again - I was seriously fed up with it, and Freud still is a douchebag in my opinion, but the approaches that have derived from him can apparently be quite intriguing.
This book is a treasure--I love the Poe stories, and I love the academic debate about them. I have to admit that a lot of the psychoanalytic concepts went over my head, but the essays, presented in a series as they were, often enlightened each other. After reading this book, I might even have a vague idea what Lacan and Derrida were talking about!