Auguste Dupin

En The Purloined Letter, “La carta robada” el espléndido personaje que es Auguste Dupin, resuelve el enigma de una carta robada o sustraída a la vista de tres personajes, que luego fue escondida por el ladrón en lugar tan visible que nadie sospecharía, y finalmente recuperada por Dupin a la vista del que la había robado.

En las habitaciones reales, la dama (¿la reina?) estaba leyendo una carta en el momento que entró un caballero muy exaltado (¿el rey?); la dama nerviosa dejó la carta sobre la mesa cuando entró el Ministro “D”, quien con su “ojo de lince” reconoció la carta y la sustrajo a la vista de la dama y del caballero.

El Prefecto de la policía parisina recurre a Dupin, después de dieciocho meses de buscar infatigablemente la carta cuyo develamiento, le dice, resultaría catastrófico.

El psicoanalista-estructuralista francés Jacques Lacan* escribió un texto muy interesante, analizando este relato de Poe para fundamentar sus tesis sobre Freud.  Entre muchas otras reflexiones relativas al relato de Poe, Lacan analiza sobre lo que está a la vista y que no vemos; explica que el juego de niños “Odds and Evens” le sirve a Poe para ejemplificar la inteligencia de un niño de ocho años quien gana el juego previendo los movimientos del adversario; describe la forma como el Ministro D ocultó la carta y la forma como Dupin la recupera sustituyéndola con una hoja en la cual él escribió una cita; Dupin también evidencia el prejuicio del Prefecto por los poetas sobre los matemáticos siendo los poetas son superiores en el arte del encubrimiento, en tanto que los matemáticos le tienen tanta devoción a sus fórmulas que llegan a identificarlas con la razón misma; y cómo la policía confundió que su objetivo era “la carta” y no “la búsqueda”.

Este relato se publicó por primera vez en 1844 en la revista americana “The Gift”.

* Jacques Lacan. Francia. 1901-1981. El texto de Lacan al que hago referencia se titula “The Seminar on The Purloined Letter” publicado en “French Freud”, Yale French Studies 48. 1972. Se puede consultar en:


Edgar Allan Poe (Estados Unidos, 1809-1849)

The Purloined Letter en Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems. USA: Maplewood Books. Kindle Edition. 2013. 338 pages

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Seleccione aquí para leer los párrafos donde Lacan sintetiza e interpreta la trama de The Purloined Lettter, “La carta robada”

…The primal scene is thus performed, we are told, in the royal boudoir, so that we suspect that the person of the highest rank, called the “exalted personage,” who is alone there when she receives a letter, is the Queen. This feeling is confirmed by the embarrassment into which she is plunged by the entry of the other exalted personage, of whom we have already been told prior to this account that the knowledge he might have of the letter in question would jeopardize for the lady nothing less than her honor and safety. Any doubt that he is in fact the King is promptly dissipated in the course of the scene which begins with the entry of the Minister D-. At that moment, in fact, the Queen can do no better than to play on the King’s inattentiveness by leaving the letter on the table “face down, address uppermost.” It does not, however, escape the Minister’s Iynx eye, nor does he fail to notice the Queen’s distress and thus to fathom her secret. From then on everything transpires like clockwork. After dealing in his customary manner with the business of the day, the Minister draws from his pocket a letter similar in appearance to the one in his view, and, having pretended to read it, he places it next to the other. A bit more conversation to amuse the royal company, whereupon, without flinching once, he seizes the embarrassing letter, making off with it, as the Queen, on whom none of his maneuver has been lost, remains unable to intervene for fear of attracting the attention of her royal spouse, close at her side at that very moment. Everything might then have transpired unseen by a hypothetical spectator of an operation in which nobody falters, and whose quotient is that the Minister has filched from the Queen her letter and that-an even more important result than the first-the Queen knows that he now has it, and by no means innocently. A remainder that no analyst will neglect, trained as he is to retain whatever is significant, without always knowing what to do with it: the letter, abandoned by the Minister, and which the Queen’s hand is now free to roll into a ball. Second scene: in the Minister’s office. It is in his hotel, and we know-from the account the Prefect of Police has given Dupin, whose specific genius for solving enigmas Poe introduces here for the second time-that the police, returning there as soon as the Minister’s habitual, nightly absences allow them to, have searched the hotel and its surroundings from top to bottom for the last eighteen months. In vain-although everyone can deduce from the situation that the Minister keeps the letter within reach.

Dupin calls on the Minister. The latter receives him with studied nonchalance, affecting in his conversation romantic ennui. Meanwhile Dupin, whom this pretense does not deceive, his eyes protected by green glasses, proceeds to inspect the premises. When his glance catches a rather crumpled piece of paper-apparently thrust carelessly into a division of an ugly pasteboard card rack, hanging gaudily from the middle of the mantelpiece-he already knows that he’s found what he’s looking for. His conviction is reinforced by the very details which seem to contradict the description he has of the stolen letter, with the exception of the format, which remains the same.

Whereupon he has but to withdraw, after “forgetting” his snuffbox on the table, in order to return the following day to reclaim it-armed with a facsimile of the letter in its present state. As an incident in the street, prepared for the proper moment, draws the Minister to the window, Dupin in turn seizes the opportunity to snatch the letter while substituting the imitation and has only to maintain the appearances of a normal exit.

Here as well all has transpired, if not without noise, at least without any commotion. The quotient of the operation is that the Minister no longer has the letter, but far from suspecting that Dupin is the culprit who has ravished it from him, knows nothing of it. Moreover, what he is left with is far from insignificant for what follows. We shall return to what brought Dupin to inscribe a message on his counterfeit letter. Whatever the case, the Minister, when he tries to make use of it, will be able to read these words, written so that he may recognize Dupin’s hand:

… Un dessein si funeste / S’il n’est digne d’Atrée, est digne de Thyeste,

whose source, Dupin tells us, is Crebillon’s Atrée

Una posible interpretación a esta última línea de The Purloined Lettter es “un plan funesto, indigno de Atrée, pero totalmente digno de Tiestes”. Poe tomó estas líneas de una tragedia francesa Atrée et Thyeste, escrita por un autor francés del siglo dieciocho conocido como Crebillon.