Psychology of Poe’s Raven: Creating the Void Just to Fill It?

A book recently published has multiple essays that explore the Psychology in Edgar Allen Poe

Sean J. Kelly intelligently examines, through a Lacanian psychoanalytic framework, the aesthetic effects of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” (1845), specifically those effects produced by the poem’s sublime architectonics of present-absence. While critics have examined the role of the sublime and uncanny in the poem, most of these studies have focused on providing an historical context for Poe’s aesthetics or establishing cultural sources for the poem’s symbolic imagery. By contrast, Kelly aims to demonstrate that both the form and content of “The Raven” anticipate the psychoanalytic, specifically Freudian-Lacanian, concept of das Ding—the mythical “Thing”—which Jacques Lacan, in Seminar VII, argues is the lost object “attached to whatever is open, lacking, or gaping at the center of our desire.” Because, according to Lacan’s theory, this concept names the void around which human subjectivity forms and all subsequent desire turns, art functions, in essence, to “creat[e] the void and thereby introduce[e] the possibility of filling it.”

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