Jacques lacan seminar on the purloined letter pdf

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  2. Re-reading the Purloined Letter | Jacques Lacan | Deconstruction
  3. Re-reading the Purloined Letter
  4. Lacan and the Formula of the “Purloined Letter”

Our inquiry has led us to the point of recognizing that the repetition automatism ( Wiederholangszwang) finds its basis in what we have called. Seminar on "The Purloined Letter". STOR. Jacques Lacan, Jeffrey Mehlman. Yale French Studies, Volume 1, Issue 48, French Freud: Structural. Jacques Lacan. ***. -! Lacan chose his "Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter'" to introduce the this Lacan presupposes in this essay as familiar co his readers.

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Jacques Lacan Seminar On The Purloined Letter Pdf

Seminar on “The Purloined Letter”. Jacques Lacan. 1. Preliminary Analytic Principles. The Meaning of the Signifier. Symbolic, Imaginary, Real. “The Symbolic. Jacques LACAN. ÉCRITS. The FIRST Seminar on “The Purloined Letter" mer na- . signifier—the purloined lettercomes to occupy in their trio. This is what. Re-reading the Purloined Letter - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read Lacan in his Seminar emphasizes the repetitiveness of these two scenes.

You are on page 1of 34 Search inside document Pravina Pillay 1 Introduction The work of Edgar Poe has served as a touchstone for shifts in psychoanalytic criticism throughout the twentieth century. There is a vast array of critical interpretations that have developed around his work, it might seem that Poe has become all things to all critics. In particular, the critical body that clusters around the story The Purloined Letter forms a dossier of debates within psychoanalytic literary interpretation. Williams asserts that it is hardly surprising that Poe should have become a special object of psychoanalytic interest as his stories and poems pivot around such concerns as: mental aberration, decay or the indefinitions of sexual identity, the exquisite impossibility of fixed knowledge in a world in which truth is an endlessly circulating, maddeningly unfixed ideal or image, never to be pinned down or guaranteed. Debate around The Purloined Letter has been prolific. The average reader might consider The Purloined Letter to be just an intriguing detective short story. However, the story has profound psychological implications which lift it above a mere detective story; otherwise psychologists would not have spent so much time analyzing it. Jacques Derrida based his extremely vehement critique of Jacques Lacans phallogocentrism on the latters mercilessly minute analytical commentary of Poes The Purloined Letter. Lacan thought so highly of this commentary that he placed it first in the collection of essays published under the title Ecrits, the rest of which appear in chronological order. As with certain commentaries in philosophy, Lacans essay became more famous than the story on which it comments. The Purloined Letter is far from the best of Poes Extraordinary Tales, but Lacan turns it into a striking Alternation 15,2 - ISSN Re-reading The Purloined Letter myth: truth, woman, and castration are all clearly revealed to be lurking in the text. I will also discuss Lacans return to Freud and examine the implications that this has for feminist criticisms of psychoanalysis. The discussion takes place in the following stages: firstly, I discuss Lacans reading of The Purloined Letter. There are two scenes in particular that Lacan likes to compare. The first scene begins with the Queen receiving a personal letter that could compromise her integrity should the King see it.

Within these binary opposites, one member is privileged and marginalizing the other member of the pair. The privileged term is at the same time the so called central term. Derrida now tries to subvert the central term so that the marginalized term can become the central one. In this case the marginalized term temporarily overthrows the hierarchy. Now, deconstruction is a political practice. He claims that the new hierarchy, if the marginalized term overthrew the privileged, might be instable as well.

According to Derrida all languages and all texts, that are deconstructed, are like this, which means, that there is no central configuration that attempts to freeze the play of this particular system. So there are also no marginal, privileged or repressed ones.

Derrida favoured the spoken word over the written because he associated writing with the absence of the person who is expressing his or her thought. In contrast to Lacan, Derrida regards the signified, which means the meaning, as more important than the signifier. He believed, that the sound signifier only gives access to the meaning signified.

And also concepts are distinguishable from other concepts only because of their difference from other concepts. So Derrida arrives at the point that one can never reach meaning.

There is only an endless chain of concepts, sounds or signified. It is just the play of difference that makes the sounds and meaning.

Derrida goes even further. He claims that neither speech, nor writing are adequate to describe the more abstract play of differences, which they both are.

From this he arrives at the term of arche-writing. Arche-writing is not a thing.

It is the pure possibility of contrast, of difference. Arche-writing makes possible the play of differences. It does not exist as a thing, yet makes all these possible. And grammatology is the science of arche-writing. Our whole life is just like a text — a play of absence and presence. There is a kind of space where dissemination will have been always already taken place.

This space includes not only the text but also the reader. So his theory about the text-reader relation is crucial for the interpretation of The Purloined Letter as a text and the text within the purloined letter. He was the private tutor of the emperor Nero. Epiktet, a Greek stoic was his teacher. This is why Seneca also became a stoic himself. He wanted to come up with a practical work to form his life.

His speeches, which made him famous, are lost. His style is short and sharp. He wants to surprise the reader and by this gain his curiosity. He likes to play with metaphors. The greatest virtue for him was composure.

He said that he himself was an imperfect wise man. With this quote Seneca wants to express, that, even wisdom has its limits. Wise man, also called philosophers, always declared that they know everything and that there is no one who can fool them. But Seneca thought, that there is something that is equal to wisdom; and this is cleverness. That is why wisdom, or the wise man, hate it more than anything else.

So as a very wise person you can know lots of things. He himself was one of them, but he was the only one who recognized the power of cleverness, intelligence and slyness. At that time, his sentence was a rousing for those who were not that wise, but who were clever and at the same time it was a declaration of war on the great thinker of the first century.

For this, there is a direct connection between the Latin words and the detective fiction that can be drawn. And that is exactly what the story of the purloined letter is about.

Wisdom, as a metaphor is represented by the police who think that they are so clever and know the Minister D— so well that it can be no problem to outwit the latter by searching his hotel room every night according to a systematically structured plan, as they had done so many times in so many cases before.

So the police think that they are superior to the Minister, because they believe that he does not know anything about the clandestine visits. Nevertheless they are not able to find what they are looking for. For a very simple reason, they did not expect the Minister to be clever, a philosopher. The Prefect makes two deductions with which Dupin does not disagree: The contents of the letter have not been revealed, as this would have led to certain circumstances that have not arisen.

Therefore, Minister D— still has the letter in his possession. The ability to produce the letter at a moment's notice is almost as important as actual possession of the letter. Therefore, he must have the letter close at hand. The Prefect says that he and his police detectives have searched the Ministerial hotel where D— stays and have found nothing.

They checked behind the wallpaper and under the carpets.

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His men have examined the tables and chairs with magnifying glasses and then probed the cushions with needles but have found no sign of interference; the letter is not hidden in these places.

Dupin asks the Prefect if he knows what he is seeking and the Prefect reads off a minute description of the letter, which Dupin memorizes. The Prefect then bids them good day. A month later, the Prefect returns, still bewildered in his search for the missing letter. He is motivated to continue his fruitless search by the promise of a large reward, recently doubled, upon the letter's safe return, and he will pay 50, francs to anyone who can help him. Dupin asks him to write that check now and he will give him the letter.

The Prefect is astonished, but knows that Dupin is not joking.

Re-reading the Purloined Letter | Jacques Lacan | Deconstruction

He writes the check and Dupin produces the letter. The Prefect determines that it is genuine and races off to deliver it to the victim. Alone together, the narrator asks Dupin how he found the letter. Dupin explains the Paris police are competent within their limitations, but have underestimated with whom they are dealing.

The Prefect mistakes the Minister D— for a fool, because he is a poet.

Re-reading the Purloined Letter

For example, Dupin explains how an eight-year-old boy made a small fortune from his friends at a game called " Odds and Evens ". The boy was able to determine the intelligence of his opponents and play upon that to interpret their next move. He explains that D— knew the police detectives would have assumed that the blackmailer would have concealed the letter in an elaborate hiding place, and thus hid it in plain sight.

The letter stolen again Dupin says he had visited the minister at his hotel.

Complaining of weak eyes he wore a pair of green spectacles, the true purpose of which was to disguise his eyes as he searched for the letter. In a cheap card rack hanging from a dirty ribbon, he saw a half-torn letter and recognized it as the letter of the story's title.

Striking up a conversation with D— about a subject in which the minister is interested, Dupin examined the letter more closely.

Lacan and the Formula of the “Purloined Letter”

It did not resemble the letter the Prefect described so minutely; the writing was different and it was sealed not with the "ducal arms" of the S— family, but with D—'s monogram.

Dupin noticed that the paper was chafed as if the stiff paper was first rolled one way and then another. Dupin concluded that D— wrote a new address on the reverse of the stolen one, re-folded it the opposite way and sealed it with his own seal.


Dupin left a snuff box behind as an excuse to return the next day.

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