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Le séminaire sur 'La lettre volée'
1956 (53 pp.)-LE SEMINAIRE SUR LA LETTRE VOlfE (THE SEMINAR ON THE PURLOINED LETTER)-1957, 1973 Poe's story is read in an entirely original way: by translating the title by "the diverted leiter" or "the leiter in sufferance."· Lacan gives as the moral of the fable "that a leiter always arrives at its destination." in spite of its adventures. "The invention of the poet and the rigor of the mathematician." such is his judgment about this story whose "plausibility [is) so perfect that one can say e. The French is leftre ell sOllffrallce. which means a leiter held up in the course of delivery: ell .wlIffrallce also means in a state of suffering.
The Works of Jacques Lacan 1.1 that truth reveals there its fictional organization." The narration repeats a drama organized around three types of gaze in two scenes (the king/the queen/ the minister and the police/the minister/Dupin), in which the second scene repeats the first one, with a mere change in the characters' positions. How�ever, it is a very revealing change. In this detective story, Lacan, repeating Dupin, the narrator, and Poe, reinterprets the clues for our pleasure. But this story interested him because it fit his own research. He discovered in it "the master words of our drama," the drama of inter�subjectivity where subjects are entirely determined by the displacement of the signifier (here figured by the letter), independently of "innate gifts, social experience, character, and gender." He asserted both the radical autonomy of the signifying system and the complete subjection of the subject to the trajec�tory of the signifier. On the basis of the sessions of Semina ire J/ (27), he wrote a first version of this text, published in 1956 in La Psychanalyse. Then, revising its organization and its mathematical part, he wrote a second version in 1966, which he put at the beginning of Ecrits (63). In this text, he was looking for a logic of intersubjectivity. For that purpose, he clarified the Schema L. (27), and, most importantly, he elaborated, on the basis of the game of odds and evens present in Poe's story, a pure combinatory based on cybernetics. Cybernetics fascinated him more and more. Ultimately, the sub�ject is only the abstract subject of this combinatory, indeed its product. In 1964 (58) Lacan said that he "had substituted the simplest succession to the randomness of a binary alternation." Depending on the perspective, the letter is the message, the simplest element of writing (the alphabet), the symbol of a pact, an "immense female body," the phallus in its function of desire and power, or litter. This leads us to L'Instance de la /ellre (35) or to La Subver�sion du sujet (46), and also to the future objet a, the cause of desire (52).