Chapter

Third-Person Interruption

Marjorie Garber

in Loaded Words

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242047
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823242085 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823242047.003.0010
Third-Person Interruption

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This chapter examines the concept of interruption in the third person by revisiting one of the most canonical moments of apparent interruption in English literary history: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem “Kubla Khan.” It was the twentieth-century poet Stevie Smith who made a kind of hero of Coleridge's “person from Porlock” and unforgettably tied him to the question of interruption, and, by implication, of the surcease of death. A “person” is one of the three modes of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and a grammatical class of personal pronouns (first person, second person, third person). It is in this curious conjunction of triads, the three Persons of the Trinity and the three persons of grammar, that we may find some speculative space for imagining a theory of interruption. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Sigmund Freud explores that impulse to continuity without undue excitation that he calls the death drive, and the sexual instincts which excite and disrupt that orderly process.

Keywords: interruption; third person; personal pronouns; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; death; Sigmund Freud; sexual instincts

Chapter.  3236 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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