Somewhat of a surprise was waiting when I finally held all 700+ pages of Marie Bonaparte‘s The Life and Works of E. A. Poe: a Psychoanalytic Interpretation in my hands and skipped to the psychoanalytical interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “Loss of Breath.”
There, on page 373, Marie Bonaparte utters what any man dreads to hear: that he is impotent. Ouch. Poe must have turned in his grave when he heard of his post-mortem psychobiography and Bonaparte’s concern with his vita sexualis.
In “Loss of Breath”, my favourite Poe story, Marie Bonaparte finds the ultimate proof of Poe’s impotence. She equates the breath of Mr. Lackobreath, the sorry protagonist of the tale, with “pneuma,” “life force,” hence “sexual potency.”
To strengthen her argument, she cites Baudelaire who once said “There is not in all of Poe’s work a single passage that tends to lubricity or even to sensual pleasure“.
Not only was Poe impotent, according to Marie Bonaparte, he was a “repressed sado-masochist and necrophilist” (299) and his body of writing was the product of neurosis.