Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man2017-04-28T18:40:25+00:00

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

James Joyce

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Why A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Croagh Patrick

James Joyce is the most celebrated of all Irish writers. I loved Joyce in college. I spent one semester in a college literature class focused primarily on writing an epic paper on A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Joyce is not for everyone. His style is complex with lots of words and metaphors. However, his work is worth a try. His masterpiece, Ulysses, is considered by many to be the greatest book ever written.

More About A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the first novel of Irish writer James Joyce. A Künstlerroman in a modernist style, it traces the religious and intellectual awakening of young Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and an allusion to Daedalus, the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology. Stephen questions and rebels against the Catholic and Irish conventions under which he has grown, culminating in his self-exile from Ireland to Europe. The work uses techniques that Joyce developed more fully in Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939).

A Portrait began life in 1903 as Stephen Hero—a projected 63-chapter autobiographical novel in a realistic style. After 25 chapters, Joyce abandoned Stephen Hero in 1907 and set to reworking its themes and protagonist into a condensed five-chapter novel, dispensing with strict realism and making extensive use of free indirect speech that allows the reader to peer into Stephen’s developing consciousness. American modernist poet Ezra Pound had the novel serialised in the English literary magazine The Egoist in 1914 and 1915, and published as a book in 1916 by B. W. Huebsch of New York. The publication of A Portrait and the short story collection Dubliners (1914) earned Joyce a place at the forefront of literary modernism.

In 1998, the Modern Library named the novel third on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

James Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde and is regarded as one of the most influential and important authors of the 20th century.

Joyce was born in 41 Brighton Square, Rathgar, Dublin—about half a mile from his mother’s birthplace in Terenure—into a middle-class family on the way down. A brilliant student, he briefly attended the Christian Brothers-run O’Connell School before excelling at the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere, despite the chaotic family life imposed by his father’s alcoholism and unpredictable finances. He went on to attend University College Dublin.

In 1904, in his early twenties, Joyce emigrated permanently to continental Europe with his partner (and later wife) Nora Barnacle. They lived in Trieste, Paris and Zurich. Though most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce’s fictional universe centres on Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there. Ulysses in particular is set with precision in the streets and alleyways of the city. Shortly after the publication of Ulysses, he elucidated this preoccupation somewhat, saying, “For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.