Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 September 2019
“Paris Encountered” is concerned with Joyce’s first period in Paris in 1902 and 1903. The chapter reads chronologically works that have been addressed primarily under the aspect of their later appearance in Joyce’s works: Poem XXXV from Chamber Music, which Joyce sent on a photo-postcard from Paris to Dublin; his aesthetic essay and notes on Aristotle and Hegel in the Paris/Pola Notebook held at the National Library of Ireland; and the short piece of prose poetry later known as Epiphany 33. Drawing upon new sensory studies of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Paris, “Paris Encountered” uncovers Joyce’s preoccupation with sensation in this period. It argues that his writing undergoes a crucial evolution as he moves from his declaration in the aesthetic essay that art must banish desire and reestablish the autonomy of the intellect to a writing that undercuts objective observation and judgment with an indiscriminate and ineluctable sensory permeation. Necessary for this evolution are the new literary forms developed by Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, and Émile Zola to address the sensory impact of contemporary Paris as well as Joyce’s discovery of pseudo-Aristotle’s Problems, an unsystematic, zetetic text that models a radically open-ended inquiry into the body and the mind understood as consubstantial, porous, and processual.
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