Lacan’s analysis of Poe’s ‘Purloined Letter’ has been glossed so often that one can be seized by a sort of metatextual vertigo, especially after reading the very comprehensive anthology entitled
The Purloined Poe
However no-one can deny the particular importance of this reading for Lacan, no more than the fact that he decided to open the volume of
with this seminar, thus eliminating any possibility of chronological order. Here is the outline of his programme:
But if man was reduced to being nothing but the place where our discourse returns, would not the question of: ‘what’s the point of sending it?’ be returned to us?
This is indeed the question posed for us by these new readers whose presence has been an argument when we were pressed to gather these texts [
We will leave them time to adapt to our style by giving the ‘Purloined Letter’ the privilege of opening their sequence, in spite of the diachronical order. (