Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 September 2019
“Paris Re-envisioned” explores what Joyce called the “exploding visions” of the “Circe” episode, composed after his return to Paris in 1920. While the episode has usually been read as staging Bloom’s repressed desires, “Paris Re-envisioned” argues that its visionary form presents the fantastical development of thought in Nighttown, a heightened and totalized version of the city under capitalism. As he presents the ensnaring of human productive powers in structures of profit., Joyce adapts elements from nineteenth-century visionary texts: the play-script form of Flaubert’s La Tentation de Saint Antoine, the hallucinatory paralogic of the commercial Paris of Nerval’s Les Nuits d’Octobre and Aurelie, où La Rêve et la vie, and the mode of visionary farce of Rimbaud’s Une Saison en enfer. The chapter shows that the possibility of political and social transformation is tied, in Nighttown, to a domination of nature, manifested in a male use of female bodies, but that Bloom’s sexual desires deviate into nonprocreative, nonheterogenital activities. In an exchange with a Nymph, who is a comic embodiment of the disinterested, autonomous artwork, Bloom defends a transient, relational, and sensual exploration of the “various joys we each enjoy.”
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