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Sachs, H. (1935). Edgar Allan Poe. Psychoanal Q., 4:294-306.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 4:294-306

Edgar Allan Poe

Hanns Sachs

In this study we have the first example of a psychoanalytical investigation which does not content itself with examining a sector of the unconscious of an artist, a creative period in his life, or some particular creative trend exhibited in him, but which embraces the man and his work as an undivided whole. Nothing has been omitted, as has been unavoidable in all previous expositions; all the various threads, major and minor, in this very complicated fabric, which pass from Edgar Allan Poe's experiences of childhood and impressions of adolescence, his ardors and inhibitions, his neurosis and addiction, into his poetic creation and fantasy-world, are traced with patience, penetration and an untiring zeal for interpretation. This extensive, difficult, often impenetrable and seemingly contradictory material is scrutinized with all the resources of analytical understanding. Though many a detail may still remain problematic, the main outlines of Poe's inner life have been set forth once and for all by this study, and a full light shed for the first time upon the mysterious fascination exerted by this errant spirit so torn between opposites, so rent by warring forces. A study so profound cannot but be of unconscionable length, but one is fully repaid for the attention it demands.

Those who penetrate, circle after circle, as did Dante into the Inferno, into the life of Poe, pushing on from its superficial and incidental aspects into its core, will likewise find at each stage, as in the Inferno, new torture, despair, and throes of self-annihilation.


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