Poe’s “Loss of Breath” and the Problem of Writing

Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 28)


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.


Fairy Tale Physical Shape Golden Ball Mirror Stage Sexual Impotence 
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Works Cited

  1. Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. New York: Knopf, 1977.Google Scholar
  2. Derrida, Jacques. “Freud and the Scene of Writing”. Freud: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Perry Meisel. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1981, pp. 145–82.Google Scholar
  3. “The Frog-King, or Iron Henry”. The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Introd. by Padraic Colum. Commentary by Joseph Campbell. NY: Pantheon, 1972, pp. 17–20.Google Scholar
  4. Lacan, Jacques. “The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience”. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. NY: Norton, 1977, pp. 1–7.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New YorkUSA

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