Poe’s “Loss of Breath” and the Problem of Writing
On the surface, “Loss of Breath” seems to be a story about sexual impotence. At least Marie Bonaparte’s purely Freudian reading is a noteworthy argument. But this paper will stipulate that the primary text, albeit sub-rosa, is about words, specifically Poe’s fear of being unable to find his “writing voice”, or of having his voice plagarized (“purloined”) by someone else. The story is about how language in its most basic component — breath — has the power to change shape and form in the enunciation of its meaning.
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